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RFA Roundup: Bonanza of Spring Funding Opportunities

May 2, 2019


Otero Farm cattle in pasture. Photo Credit: Miguel Otero.
Otero Farm cattle in pasture. Photo Credit: Miguel Otero.

Grant funding announcements from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been log jammed due to a series of government delays over the course of the last six months: passage of the 2018 Farm Bill was delayed by roughly three months, the last several appropriations and budget bills have been delayed, and the government shutdown earlier this year put USDA behind schedule on their farm bill implementation work. Now that Congress and the government are fully back in action with a new farm bill and a fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget in place, USDA is finally releasing stalled funding opportunities for the coming fiscal year.

As part of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s (NSAC) ongoing efforts to help farmers and advocates stay up to date with federal policy and funding opportunities, we have provided detailed descriptions of open Requests for Applications (RFAs) that may be of interest to the sustainable agriculture community. Open RFAs are listed below in order of the application deadline (soonest to farthest out).

For more detailed information on these and other USDA grant programs, see NSAC’s Grassroots Guide to Federal Food and Farm Programs.

Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), Deadline: May 2, 2019 (FY 2019); January 23,2020 (FY 2020)

OREI is a competitive research grant program administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). OREI funds integrated research, education, and extension projects that enhance the ability of organic producers and processors to grow and market organic agricultural products.

This year, NIFA released both the fiscal year (FY) 2019 and the FY 2020 RFAs simultaneously; $20 million will be made availability for each fiscal years. While the deadline for FY 2019 is May 2, 2019, the deadline for the FY 2020 RFA is not until January 23, 2020. Electronic applications must be submitted through www.grants.gov.

For more information on OREI, read our previous blog post on this RFA opportunity, and also check out our Grassroots Guide.

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), Deadline: May 16, 2019 (FY 2019); February 13, 2020 (FY 2020)

The 2018 Farm Bill moved BFRDP under the newly created Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach Program (FOTO), an umbrella program that combines, streamlines, and provides permanent funding for BFRDP and the “Section 2501” program. BFRDP is the only USDA program specifically dedicated to training the next generation of America’s farmers and ranchers. The program funds projects that provide educational, training, and technical assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers across the United States and its territories.

For FY 2019, NIFA announced the availability of $14 million for BFRDP projects. Electronic applications must be submitted through www.grants.gov. For more information on BFRDP, see NSAC’s recent blog post on the RFA, our Grassroots Guide, or our Cultivating the Next Generation Guide for more info on tips and best practices for applicants and a detailed analysis of the program’s performance to date.

Organic Transitions Program (ORG), Deadline: May 16, 2019 (FY 2019); January 27, 2020 (FY 2020)

ORG is an integrated research, education, and extension competitive grants program supporting research projects that address research challenges associated with the transition to organic agriculture. These projects provide education to farmers who are newly adopting organic practices, helping transitioning producers better understand the economic and environmental benefits of organic production.

This year, NIFA released RFAs for FY 2019 and FY 2020 simultaneously; $5.8 million will be made available for each fiscal year. For more information on OREI read NSAC’s recent blog post on this RFA and our Grassroots Guide. Electronic applications must be submitted through www.grants.gov.

Community Food Projects (CFP), Deadline: June 3, 2019

CFP supports eligible nonprofits, tribal organizations, and food program service providers in need of a one-time infusion of federal assistance for projects that promote self-sufficiency and food security, address specific needs, and provide comprehensive, community-based solutions in low-income communities. This program is administered by USDA’s NIFA.

In FY 2019, $4.8 million will be made available for CFP applicants. Electronic applications must be submitted through www.grants.gov.

For more information on CFP, see NSAC’s Grassroots Guide.

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – Sustainable Agriculture Systems (AFRI SAS), Deadline: June 4, 2019 (letter of intent); September 26, 2019 (final applications)

AFRI, USDA’s the largest competitive research grant program, funds research, education and extension projects that address food and agricultural systems. AFRI SAS focuses specifically on enhancing the sustainable production of food in the face of human and environmental challenges, such as human health, land and water resources, pest outbreaks, and varying climate.

NIFA has announced the availability of $90 million for AFRI SAS in FY 2019. Letters of intent must be submitted electronically through www.grants.gov. For more information on AFRI SAS, see NSAC’s recent blog post on the RFA opportunity.

Food Safety Outreach Program (FSOP), Deadline: June 6, 2019

FSOP funded programs are designed to help producers come into compliance with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules. FSOP funds community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, cooperative extension, and local, state, and tribal governments’ training and technical assistance programs focused on food safety.

For FY 2019, NIFA has announced the availability of $7.6 million for FSOP. Electronic applications for FSOP must be submitted through www.grants.gov. For more information on FSOP, see NSAC’s recent blog post on the RFA and our Grassroots Guide.

Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP, formerly FINI), Deadline: June 10, 2019

Created in the 2014 Farm Bill (and subsequently renamed in the 2018 Farm Bill), the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentives Program (GusNIP) is a competitive grant program that supports projects that increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Eligible projects must provide cash incentives at the point of purchase. Eligible entities include government agencies and non-profit organizations including agricultural cooperatives, farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs (CSAs), SNAP-authorized retailers, emergency feeding organizations, community health organizations, and economic development corporations.

NIFA has announced the availability of $41 million for GusNIP projects for FY 2019. Applications must be submitted electronically through www.grants.gov.  For more information on FINI (GusNIP’s predecessor program), see NSAC’s Grassroots Guide.

Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP), Deadline: June 18, 2019

The 2018 Farm Bill reorganized FMLFPP as part of the newly created Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP). As part of LAMP, FMLFPP is paired with the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program and provided with permanent funding – the core functions and operating practices of FMLFPP remain largely the same, however.

Administered by USDA’s AMS, the program provides grants on a competitive basis for a wide spectrum of direct-to consumer and local food marketing projects, and is administered as two subprograms: the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP). Both subprograms provide Capacity and Technical Assistance grants, as well as planning and implementation grants for food enterprises and producers who wish to expand their access to local food markets.

For FY 2019, AMS has announced the availability of $23 million for FMLFPP. Applications must be submitted electronically through www.grants.gov.

For more information on FMLFPP, see NSAC’s recent blog post on the RFA, as well as our Grassroots Guide.

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE), Deadlines vary – May through June 2019

SARE is USDA’s only competitive grants program with a clear and consistent focus on farmer-driven research. SARE is administered through four regional councils that represent the Northeast, North Central, Southern, and Western parts of the U.S. These regional councils of producers, researches, educators, government representatives are responsible for setting SARE policies and grant making processes for their regions.

Each SARE region administers three primary grant programs: Research and Education, Professional Development, and Producer Grants. Deadlines for active grant applications are listed below.

  • Southern SARE
    • Graduate Student Grants – May 3, 2019
    • Large Systems Research Grants – May 3, 2019
    • Research and Education Grants – June 7, 2019
  • Northeast SARE
    • Graduate Student Program – May 7, 2019
    • Research and Education Pre-proposals – June 25, 2019
    • Professional Development Pre-proposals – June 25, 2019
  • Western SARE
    • Research and Education Grants – May 28, 2019

For more specific information on each region’s opportunities and their programs, please see NSAC’s “SARE Round Up”.


Categories: Grants and Programs


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