In 1985, the same year that the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (SAC) was established, SAC helped to create the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program which is administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (formerly, the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service) at USDA. Since then, SARE has been the flagship research program for sustainable agriculture at USDA.
SARE’s strength is based on unique features of cost-effective and equitable regional administration combined with strong farmer participation, outcomes-oriented research results, and top-rated customer service and public outreach. SARE projects involve farmers and ranchers directly in research as the primary investigator in small producer grants or as cooperators in larger research and education grants. In addition, SARE’s Professional Development Program grants provide information and training on sustainable systems to a wide array of USDA personnel, extension agents, and others who provide technical assistance to farmers and ranchers. In 1990, Congress determined that the SARE program should be funded at no less than $60 million a year, consistent with the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences. Sadly, the annual appropriations for this award-winning program have yet to reach this level.