WASHINGTON — The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has $17.6 million in grants available for organic agriculture research, education and Extension activities.

“America’s organic industry continues to be one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. agriculture,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, the institute’s director.

Funded projects will aid farmers with planning by delivering practical, research-based information to improve their ability to develop an organic system plan required for certification.

Eligible entities include land-grant and other research universities, federal agencies, national laboratories, state agricultural experiment stations, research foundations and other private researchers.

Applications are due by March 1.

Previously funded projects include a project supporting researchers at the University of New Hampshire to support organic dairy farmers interested in resilient forage production systems and new milk markets in their region.

After this project, about 100 Northeastern organic dairy farmers transitioned their milking cows to high-forage or forage-only diets. About 200 adopted or fine-tuned the use of annual forage crops to extend the grazing season.

About 6,000 acres of additional organic summer annuals were planted in New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania and New York, and milk content of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid increased by an average of 76 and 42 percent in cows fed ground flaxseed.