March 18, 2011
USDA recently released the reports on funded Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) projects for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 grant cycle, including research focusing on sustainability of small- and medium-sized farms and rural development and on the economics of markets and development, two of the many AFRI subprograms.
For 2011, as we previously reported here, the small and medium-size farm and rural development program area has been divided into three separate programs – small and medium-sized farms, rural development, and rural entrepreneurship and small business development.
NSAC reported on the Request for Applications (RFA) for the AFRI grants in April 2010. Approximately $7 million was available in program funds for the small and mid-sized farm subprogram and approximately $3 million for markets and development. Proposed budgets could be up to $500,000 for project periods of up to five years.
Projects on small- and medium-size farm viability and on markets and development were funded throughout the country, tailored to regional needs and farming styles.
At the University of Hawaii, a study on increased food localization and producer heterogeneity on the islands will investigate the potential economic effects for both producers and consumers of more small-scale, local producers and less imported food.
The University of Idaho received funding for a project researching how to increase prosperity for small farmers through sustainable livestock production, processing, and marketing.
Researchers at the University of Vermont received funding to study the connections and interactions between people (including farmers, consumers, and residents of rural communities), place (rural communities and others connected to farming communities), and prosperity (farm income, health of local communities, and quality of life for farmers and farm families).
Kansas State University researchers received funding for a study on the ability and willingness of small and medium size farmers to intensify on-farm conservation efforts to provide carbon offsets for an established carbon market in the midwestern United States. In order to do so, the project will develop a natural resource farm management tool that assesses potential for carbon sequestration, and will also examine small and medium size farmers’ willingness to intensify cropping practices in order to participate.
Researchers at the University of Missouri will receive funding to investigate the potential for local and regional food systems to enhance the prosperity of small- and medium-sized farms as well as the overall impact on rural community development.
At Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, researchers received funding to study Limited Resource Rural Households (LRRH) and their potential role in expanding local and regional food systems. Past research has shown that these households have close ties within their limited social networks, but few ties outside of these networks. The study seeks to identify institutional, social, cultural, economic, and psychological factors that may hinder small-scale producers, especially LRRH. It will attempt to address these factors by emphasizing business skills and entrepreneurial development, and will focus on using local and regional partnerships to support these struggling small farms and the surrounding communities.
A complete list of AFRI awards for the 2010 Request for Applications is available from NIFA here. Please note that the awards based on the 2010 RFA are listed on this chart under the 2011 column.