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SARE ROUNDUP: Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program Opportunities

April 5, 2019


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 6,800 farmer-driven research and education initiatives through competitive grant awards. As the only farmer-driven, sustainable agriculture 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 resilience.

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 houses their own program information, requests for proposals, and other important information separately, 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, Professional Development, 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!

National SARE News

In a March 2019 press release on funding availability, SARE published 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 lists includes every grant awarded in the state by title.

Find out more about SARE projects in your state here.

North Central SARE

In February 2019, NC-SARE announced a call for proposals for its 2019 Graduate Student Grant Program.

The Graduate Student Grant Program supports projects by graduate students that address sustainable agriculture issues and are part of the student’s degree program. NC-SARE launched the Graduate Student Grant Program in 2002 for officially registered graduate students (Masters and Ph.D.) enrolled at accredited colleges or universities. Qualified projects must benefit agriculture in the North Central Region. Project awards are capped at $15,000.

The deadline for 2019 Graduate Student Grant Program is April 11, 2019.

Northeast SARE

NE-SARE has also released a call for proposals for their 2019 Graduate Student Grant Program, as well as their Partnership Grant Program. Additionally, they have also announced pre-proposal deadlines for Research and Education program grants, and Professional Development grants programs.

The Graduate Student Program funds projects that explore one or more of the sustainable agriculture themes of environmental stewardship, farm profitability and quality of life for farmers and the farm community. Proposed topics should address issues of current or potential importance to Northeast farmers. Projects are capped at $15,000.

The deadline for the 2019 Graduate Student Program is May 7, 2019.

The Partnership Grant Program is reserved for agricultural service providers like non-profits, consultants, state departments of agriculture, and can be used to fund on-farm demonstrations, research, marketing and other projects with farmers as cooperators. Project caps have increased to $30,000. 

The deadline for 2019 Partnership Grants is April 23, 2019. 

The Research and Education Program funds programs that aim to teach farmers new knowledge and skills, that are then applied to make verifiable (measurable) changes in behavior. The targeted changes should lead to a more sustainable agriculture within the Northeast region.

The deadline for the 2020 Research and Education pre-proposals is June 25, 2019. Application materials will be released soon.

The Professional Development Program funds projects that train agricultural service providers (e.g., Cooperative Extension, state department of agriculture personnel, crop consultants, veterinarians, farm advisors with private businesses, and nonprofit organizations) about sustainable practices and approaches so that they, in turn, can educate farmers. These train-the-trainer projects must be directed toward increasing the knowledge, skills and abilities of educators on sustainable practices and approaches.

The deadline for the 2020 Professional Development Program Pre-proposals is June 25, 2019. Application Materials will be released soon.

Southern SARE

S-SARE has announced a call for proposals for 2019 Graduate Student Grants, Large Systems Research Grants, and Research and Education Grants. S-SARE has also requested nominations for its Administrative Council.

The Graduate Student Grants give Master’s and PhD students the opportunity to conduct sustainable agriculture research projects. Graduate Student Grant projects should address sustainable agriculture issues of current and potential importance to the Southern region and the nation. Projects are capped at $16,500.

The deadline for 2019 Graduate Student Grants is May 3, 2019.

S-SARE is also seeking pre-proposals for its Research and Education Grants program. Research Grants are competitive research grants for teams of interdisciplinary researchers that encourage a systems approach in sustainable agriculture. Research grants are research-based with an educational/outreach component to extend the project findings to the public. Education Grants are competitive grants that provide sustainable agriculture education and outreach strategies for NGOs, researchers, community organizations and other ag professionals. Education Grants strictly fund education and outreach activities related to sustainable agriculture whose outcomes are intended to benefit farmers and farming communities. Research Grants are capped at $300,000 for upwards of 3 years of research activities, while Education Grants are capped at $50,000 for upwards of 2 years of education activities.

The deadline for 2019 Research and Education Grants is June 7, 2019.

The Large Systems Research Grants, a small ruminant (goat meat) production and marketing special grant, is intended for systems research teams who have established or wish to establish multi-state, multi-disciplinary regional projects, but need support to accomplish more long-term research goals. S-SARE project support can be used for up to 3 years.  Additional 3-year grants are possible, pending a review by the S-SARE Administrative Council, as well as the availability of program funding.

The project maximum is $100,000 per year for three years, with opportunity for additional three-year renewals.

The deadline for 2019 Large Systems Research Grants is May 3, 2019.

S-SARE is also currently seeking producers to fill three seats on its Administrative Council. As the governing body of the program, the council seeks producers experienced with sustainable agriculture and its impact on the environment and rural communities to replace outgoing Administrative Council members. More details are available via S-SARE’s press release.

Western SARE

W-SARE has announced a call for pre-proposals for the 2019 Research and Education Grants Program.

The Research and Education Grants funds proposals that present creative and innovative research and extension/outreach approaches, and technologies that advance W-SARE’s goals. Projects should be economically viable, protect the environment and are socially responsible. W-SARE projects must contain both research and education components and involve agricultural producers from inception to finish in the planning, design, implementation, and educational outreach. Total funds requested may not exceed $350,000 over the entire budget period.

The deadline for the 2019 Research and Education Grants is May 28, 2019.

SARE in Appropriations

SARE was one of NSAC’s first legislative accomplishments and remains to this day, one of our coalition’s top funding priorities. For Fiscal Year 2020, NSAC will be urging appropriators to increase funding for SARE grants to $45 million.

After more than 30 years of proven on-the-ground results, the program has yet to reach its authorized funding amount of $60 million. SARE research results are disseminated to farmers and adopted in their fields at a much faster pace than other federal programs. This funding will allow 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.


Categories: Grants and Programs, Research, Education & Extension


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