Other Ag News: SARE Roundup: Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program Opportunities

Thursday, October 21, 2021 - 4:01pm

Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of periodic blog posts on the happenings in each of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) regions, focusing on project solicitations and grant award announcements.

Since 1988, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program has funded more than 7,700 farmer-driven research and education initiatives through competitive grant awards totaling nearly $334 million. As the only farmer-driven, sustainable agriculture competitive research grant program offered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), SARE provides farmers and researchers with vital opportunities to better understand agricultural systems and to increase profitability and build resilience to climate change. SARE-backed initiatives have furthered stewardship of the land and its natural resources by funding research on topics such as soil health management, crop and livestock integration, soil erosion and runoff mitigation, and organic farming practices. In addition to research, many SARE projects also address social and demographic challenges faced by farming communities, including challenges faced by minority and underserved farmers, access to land, challenges for young and beginning farmers, and rural quality of life.

SARE is administered through four regional councils of producers, researchers, educators, and government representatives. SARE regions include: North Central, Northeast, Southern, and Western. These regional councils are responsible for setting SARE policies and grant making processes. Because each of the SARE councils designs and administers their own regional grant programs, NSAC provides a periodic aggregation of funding opportunities and other activities from across the regions in our “SARE Roundup.”

Each of SARE’s four regional programs administers three primary grant programs: Research and Education (R&E), Professional Development Program (PDP), and Producer Grants. Some regions also offer additional grants for community innovation, graduate student research, agricultural professionals conducting on-farm research, and region-specific initiatives.

Read on for details about what is going on in your SARE region!

North Central SARE

NC-SARE currently has three grant programs open for proposals: the 2022 Partnership Grant Program, the 2022 Farmer Rancher Grant Program, and the 2022 Youth Educator Grant Program.

The Partnership Grant Program supports projects that foster cooperation between agriculture professionals and small groups of farmers and ranchers to catalyze on-farm research, demonstration, and education activities related to sustainable agriculture. NC-SARE anticipates funding 18 projects this year, with each project receiving up to $40,000. Projects are funded for up to 24 months and typically involve three or more farmers or ranchers. University educators, including extension agents and specialists, NRCS field staff, agricultural consultants, and nonprofit or agency staff assisting farmers and ranchers at the local level can apply for this grant program.

The deadline for the 2022 Partnership Grant Program was October 21, 2021 by 4:00 pm CDT. The next cycle for this grant will likely open mid-summer/early fall 2022.

The Youth Educator Grant Program is available to educators and supports projects by youth educators that encourage youth to try sustainable practices and explore sustainable agriculture as a viable career option. The program provides opportunities for youth, parents, and community members in the North Central Region to learn about farming and ranching that is ecologically sound, profitable, and socially responsible. NC-SARE allocated $90,000 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 and grantees can receive up to $6,000 to carry out programming on sustainable agriculture for youth. Projects must be completed in 23 months. Grant recipients receive 75 percent of funding at the beginning of the project, and the remaining 25 percent of funds is reimbursed upon completion of the project.

The deadline for the 2022 Youth Educator Grant Program is November 11, 2022 by 4pm CST.

The Farmer Rancher Grant Program supports projects by farmers and ranchers who want to explore innovative sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration, and education projects. Farmer Rancher grants have funded projects addressing a variety of issues including pest/disease management, crop and livestock production, quality of life issues, marketing, soil quality, energy, and more. NC-SARE expects to award $720,000 for the 2022 Farmer Rancher Grant Program. Projects must be completed in 23 months, and award limits vary based on grant team size: individual grants can receive up to $15,000, teams of two or more grants can receive up to $30,000. 

The deadline for the 2022 Farmer Rancher Grant Program is December 2, 2021 by 4:00 pm CST.

For a list of NC-SARE grants funded in your region search the SARE database!

Northeast SARE

Farmer Grant proposals are now open for the NE-SARE Region. Farmer Grants support commercial farmers who want to test a new idea using a field trial, on-farm demonstration, marketing initiative, or other technique. Working with a technical advisor, producers develop, refine, and demonstrate new sustainable techniques and explore innovative ideas that improve profits, better stewardship, and strengthen rural communities. Projects can receive up to $30,000 and generally run for one to two years, but projects up to 3 years are accepted.

The deadline for the 2022 Farmer Grants will be November 16, 2021 by 5 pm EST.

The Research and Education Grants Program supports projects that result in farmers gaining knowledge and skills they can apply to make verifiable changes that lead to greater sustainability. Projects can be submitted with or without an applied research component, but all projects must have an outcome-based education program for farmers. Projects may focus on environmental quality, financial viability, and social sustainability topics, including farm succession, equity, community connections, and farmer health and well-being.  Projects typically last two to three years. Pre-proposals are required for Research and Education projects, and they were due midsummer 2021. The next step in the grant process is for invited proposals to submit a full proposal.

The deadline for the 2022 Research and Education Grants invited proposals is October 26, 2021 by 5 pm EST.

The Research for Novel Approaches Grants Program funds projects that conduct applied research testing the feasibility of new practices and approaches that have high potential for adoption by farmers. Projects may explore practices related to production, marketing, business management, human resource management, farm family issues, or other topics relevant to sustainable agriculture. NE-SARE defines “novel approaches” as approaches that have some evidence of being beneficial but need more data before recommending the approach for farmer adoption. Projects last two to three years. Pre-proposals are required for Research for Novel Approaches projects, and they were due midsummer 2021. The next step in the grant process is for invited proposals to submit a full proposal.

The deadline for the 2022 Research for Novel Approaches Grants invited proposals is October 26, 2021 by 5 pm EST.

The Professional Development Grants Program supports train-the-trainer projects that will help educators and agricultural service providers teach farmers about sustainable practices and approaches more effectively. Projects must be directed toward increasing the knowledge, skills and abilities of educators, and they last two to three years. Agricultural service providers include Cooperative Extension agents, state department of agriculture personnel, crop consultants, veterinarians, farm advisors with private businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Pre-proposals are required for Professional Development projects, and they were due midsummer 2021. The next step in the grant process is for invited proposals to submit a full proposal.

The deadline for invited proposals for the 2022 Professional Development Grants is October 26, 2021 by 5 pm EST.

NE-SARE’s remaining grant programs closed their calls for proposals earlier this year. The next round of funding for Graduate Student Grants and for Partnership Grants will open in early 2022.

For a list of NE-SARE grants funded in your region, search the SARE database!

Southern SARE

S-SARE proposals for the 2022 Producer Grants and On-Farm Research Grants are now open.

Producer Grants support farmers and ranchers in developing sustainable production and marketing practices. The goal of the program is for farmers and ranchers to conduct projects to solve challenges and problems they face and develop information on what works and doesn’t work, so that others facing those same problems can benefit from the results of the funded project. Any farmers or ranchers and farmer/rancher organizations throughout the Southern region are eligible to apply, and the maximum funding amount for individual farmers/ranchers is $15,000 and $20,000 for farmer/rancher organizations. Projects may be funded for up to two years.

The deadline for the Producer Grants is November 12, 2021 by 12 pm EST.

On-Farm Research Grants grants are open to agriculture professionals who regularly work with farmers and ranchers on farm production and marketing problems. These can include: Cooperative Extension agents, university specialists, governmental organizations such as NRCS, and non-governmental organizations. On-Farm Research Grants must be developed, coordinated, and led by agriculture professionals who regularly work with farmers and ranchers and who will conduct the on-farm research with at least one farmer or rancher cooperator. The amount of funding available is $20,000 for two year projects.

The deadline for the On-Farm Research Grants is December 3, 2021 by 12 pm EST.

S-SARE’s remaining grant programs closed their calls for proposals earlier this year. The next round of funding for Graduate Student GrantsProfessional Development Grants, and for Research and Education Grants will open in early 2022.

For a list of S-SARE grants funded in your region, check out these examples in the SARE database!

Western SARE

The Professional Development Grants Program focuses on training agricultural professionals to help them spread knowledge about sustainable agriculture concepts and practices. Projects should increase agricultural professionals’ sustainable agriculture knowledge, skills and action, and they should have outreach plans demonstrating delivery of knowledge. Grants are limited to $100,000 and can run for up to three years, with the final year focusing on project evaluation.

The deadline for the 2022 Professional Development Grants is November 10, 2021 by 12 pm MST.

The Farmer/Rancher Grants Program supports agricultural producers working with technical advisors in implementing projects addressing identified needs in sustainable agriculture and conducting outreach on the topic. Producers and technical advisors must integrate research and education to conduct on-site/on-farm experiments to improve production, marketing, and the environment. Both research and education components must be distinct elements of the proposal. The goal of this program is to find ways to protect the environment, enhance farm income, and improve the quality of life for farming/ranching families, communities, and society as a whole. Farmer/Rancher projects are limited to $25,000 for one producer or to $29,900 for three or more producers, for up to three years.

The deadline for the Farmer/Rancher Grants Program is November 1, 2021 by 12 pm MDT.

The Professional + Producer Grants Program supports one agricultural professional and five producers to conduct both research and education on a sustainable agriculture topic. Projects must integrate research and outreach aiming to advance environmental, economic, and social goals of sustainable agriculture, and use innovative outreach to disseminate new knowledge to producers and other agricultural stakeholders. The program is intended to benefit producers, increase the preservation of the natural and social resources upon which agriculture relies, and increase knowledge to be shared with other producers. Projects may last from one up to three years and be funded for up to $75,000.

The deadline for the Professional + Producer Grants Program is November 3, 2021 by 12 pm MDT.

The Research to Grass Roots Grants Program supports agricultural professionals, farmers, ranchers and others in the Western Region to increase their understanding and proficiency in sustainable agriculture. These projects will take the research results from previously funded SARE projects and bring those results into the field through education to agricultural professionals and producers. Funding is capped at $100,000 per project.

The deadline for the Research to Grass Roots Grants Program is November 17, 2021 by 12 pm MST.

Sabbatical Research and Education Grants provide an opportunity for faculty around the world to partner with researchers, agricultural professionals, and producers of the Western US for conducting research, education, and extension activities on sustainable agriculture. 

The deadline for the Sabbatical Research and Education Grants Program is November 18, 2021 by 12 pm MST.

Program Education and Outreach Enhancement Grants are awarded to projects that enhance effective outreach and engagement among the agricultural community of the West and Pacific Islands. Current practices for producer education methods need re-evaluation and improvement to better accommodate learning styles of diverse producer groups.

The deadline for the Program Education and Outreach Enhancement Grants is February 1, 2022 by 12 pm MST.

For a list of W-SARE grants funded in your region search the SARE database!

SARE Application Process

SARE proposals must be submitted online via this portal. Once submitted, proposals are reviewed by a Technical Review Panel against the criteria outlined in the grant’s open call and in comparison with other submitted grant proposals. The SARE Administrative Council for the region – typically, a board of agricultural producers, scientists, educators and business leaders – then makes the final selections of projects to fund. The Council typically selects proposals that are diverse in subject matter and geography, and that demonstrate outcomes that farmers and ranchers in the region can successfully adopt.

SARE publishes a summary of funded projects by state. The portfolio summary breaks down funding by SARE project type and total funding per state since 1988, and the grant list includes every grant awarded in the state by title.

Find out more about SARE projects in your state here.

SARE in Appropriations

SARE was one of NSAC’s first legislative accomplishments over 30 years ago and remains one of our Coalition’s top funding priorities to this day.  However, after more than 30 years of proven on-the-ground results, the program has yet to reach its authorized funding amount of $60 million. Currently, SARE’s funding is at $40 million for FY 2021. 

SARE research results are disseminated to farmers and adopted in their fields at a much faster pace than other federal programs. The current demand for sustainable agriculture solutions far outweigh available resources and increasing funding for SARE will play a critical role in helping SARE’s farmer driven research to keep pace with the growing challenges related to the state of the rural economy, soil health, and competitiveness of American producers. NSAC remains a supporter of SARE and continues to advocate for growing the program’s research and funding capacity.

The post SARE Roundup: Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program Opportunities appeared first on National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

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