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Upcoming Deadlines For Family Farm and Rural Community Research Grants

August 1, 2018


Farmer on computer. Photo Credit: USDA

Five research, education and extension grant programs relevant to small and mid-scale family farms and rural economic development have upcoming deadlines for proposals. All there are funded through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the largest of the competitive grant programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

This year’s AFRI Request for Applications allocates about $23 million for grants within the Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities (AERC) program area. AERC focuses on the social sciences and research to examine and improve agriculture, the environment, and rural communities.

A recorded webinar on all the AERC programs is available at https://nifa.usda.gov/event/agriculture-economics-and-rural-communities-webinar.

All of the following AERC subprograms provide grants of up to $500,000 total for project periods of up to four years.

The upcoming deadlines are detailed below.

August 23 Proposal Deadline

The Small and Medium-Sized Farms priority area seeks proposals that address issues related to the viability of family farms in an increasingly competitive market, including appropriately scaled management strategies and technologies to enhance economic profitability and sustainability. This area seeks proposals related to a variety of challenges such as:

  • Effective strategies to meet the need of socially disadvantaged producers;
  • Outreach efforts that create opportunities for veterans to enter farming;
  • Research on land tenure, as well as opportunities and obstacles to land access and land transfer for younger farmers;
  • New tools for the next generation of small and medium-sized farm owners and operators;
  • Feasibility of small to mid-scale processing, including fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables, value-added processing for institutional buyers, and small scale meat processing);
  • Effective marketing strategies by small and medium-sized farms (including production contracts and local/regional markets;
  • The role of health insurance reform and access on the preservation of family farms and entry and retention of beginning farmers and farmworkers; and
  • The impact of regulations on farm-to-retail food distribution.

For more information, contact NIFA’s Denis Ebodaghe, (202) 401-4385 or debodaghe@nifa.usda.gov. 

August 30 Proposal Deadlines 

The Economics, Market and Trade priority area focuses on the application of economics in the areas of: agricultural market structure and performance; international trade; agricultural production and resource use; consumer behavior; farm labor and immigration and policy; agricultural policy design and impacts; technology development and adoption; and science and innovation policy.

This year the program priority area emphasizes policy, including the economics of crop insurance and commodity programs, trade policy, immigration policy, and intellectual property rights.

Also with an August 30 deadline is the Economics Implications and Applications of Big Data in Food and Agriculture program. This program addresses issues of how Big Data influences the agricultural structure and markets. Among the sought after topics are:

  • The value of big data to small and large farmers and the role of big data in the agricultural supply chain, reduction of food waste and loss, improvements in consumer health, the environment and natural resource management, and agricultural trade and competitiveness.
  • Approaches for big data analytics to improve the measurement and monitoring of effluents and factors affecting environmental quality, aid in internalizing externalities, or enhance the design and implementation of policy instruments to mitigate agricultural pollution.

For more information on both of these programs, contact NIFA’s Robbin Shoemaker (202) 720-5468 or rshoemaker@nifa.usda.gov.

September 13 Proposal Deadline

The Environmental and Natural Resource Economics priority explores the interrelationship of natural resources and the environment with agriculture and rural communities. This section calls for projects that look at:

  • Economic impacts or implications of agriculture, resource conservation and management on the environment;
  • Economics of conservation and environmental policies affecting agriculture and rural communities; and
  • Use of ecosystem service valuation to improve environmental policy design.

Also with a September 13 proposal deadline is the Valuing Environmental Benefits from Natural Resource Conservation Programs priority, designed to enhance understanding of the role of payments for ecosystem services or payments for conservation practices that improve ecosystem services. Among the sought after priority areas are filling in knowledge gaps on habitat and biodiversity outcomes, nonmarket benefit evaluation, valuation of aesthetic and recreational services, and range and pasture benefit valuation.

For more information on both of these programs, contact NIFA’s Robbin Shoemaker (202) 720-5468 or rshoemaker@nifa.usda.gov.

September 27 Proposal Deadline

The Social Implications of Food and Agricultural Technologies requests proposals for multidisciplinary projects looking to address the social, ethical, cultural, and legal implications of technological innovations in the agricultural sector. Research is sought to:

  • Assess the broad social, ethical, cultural, legal, and other potential impacts that new technologies and scientific discoveries may pose for society, agricultural markets, consumer preferences, and other domains and consider models for ameliorating challenge to the technologies.
  • Assess the technology’s merits and risks and examine issues and modes of communication that can result in open and effective means to involve the public in deliberation over these issues.

Technologies and scientific advancements of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Gene editing;
  • Gene drives;
  • Analysis of big data, and tools and approaches for collecting big data from agricultural Producers;
  • Agricultural nanotechnology; and
  • Unconventional sources of protein (e.g., lab-grown meat).

For more information, contact NIFA’s Wesley Dean (202) 689-4286 or wesley.dean@nifa.usda.gov.


Categories: Research, Education & Extension


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