NSAC's Blog


July 19, 2017

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.

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program funds farmer-driven research and education through competitive grants. SARE is the only competitive research grant program offered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that focuses solely on sustainable agriculture, and has been supporting research in this field for nearly 30 years.

SARE is administered through four regional councils of producers, researchers, educators, and government representatives. These regions are the North Central, Northeast, Southern, and Western regional councils. These regional councils are responsible for setting SARE policies and the grant making process. Because each of the SARE councils houses their program information, requests for proposals, and other important information separately, NSAC provides a periodic aggregation of data from across the regions – the “SARE Roundup”.

Each one of SARE’s four regional offices 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

National SARE in partnership with NCAT/ATTRA will be hosting the “Our Farms, Our Future” conference April 3-5 2018 at the Hyatt Regency at the Arch Downtown in St. Louis, Missouri. This conference will focus on the progress and future of sustainability in agriculture and bring together farmers, ranchers, agricultural professionals, agribusiness, students, researchers, scientists, agency representatives, and nonprofit leaders from around the country. Highlights of the conference will include keynote speakers, panel sessions, farm tours, exhibits, breakout sessions, and a pre-conference session for military veterans.

North Central SARE

North Central SARE recently recognized its 2017 NCR-SARE Heroes. The NCR-SARE administrative council created the NCR-SARE Hero Recognition in 2012 to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to NCR-SARE and/or National SARE.

This year’s NCR-SARE Heroes are Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, Margaret Krome, and NSAC’s own Ferd Hoefner. Congratulations to the 2017 NCR-SARE Heroes!

Nominations for the NCR-SARE Hero Award may be submitted by anyone. An official nomination form is available here.

Northeast SARE

NE-SARE has announced a call for proposals for the 2018 Partnership Grant program, the Farmer grant program, and the Graduate Student grant program.

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. Projects are capped at $15,000. The deadline for 2018 Partnership Grants is October 17, 2017. Application materials will be released midsummer.

The 2018 Farmer Grant Program funds projects by commercial producers who want to test innovative ideas in field trials, on-farm demonstrations, or market initiatives; a technical advisor must also be involved. The deadline for 2018 Farmer Grants is November 28, 2017. Application materials will be released midsummer.

The deadline for 2018 Graduate Student Grants will be May, 2018 with awards announced in August.

Southern SARE

SARE recently released a video on how a farmer used a SARE grant to expand the market for organic ginger. Woody Crenshaw, owner of Riverstone Organic Farm in Floyd, Virginia, received a two-year SARE Producer Grant to build covered and heated raised beds in order to grow ginger in the Southwest Virginia mountains. His project documents the profitability of growing ginger through the whole production process.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) will be hosting the first statewide sustainable agriculture conference for Hispanic farmers and ranchers. The Hispanic farming community, the agriculture industry, advocates for sustainability and agribusinesses will all come together to participate in workshops, networking, and learning opportunities. The Hispanic Texas Farmers and Ranchers Conference will be held September 14-15, 2017 at the Casa de Palmas Hotel in McAllen, Texas.

With the help of a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) Professional Development Grant, the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) has developed several webinars to help farmers track financial data, analyze data and make sound business decisions to increase their profitability. These webinars are part of SWAWG’s larger educational effort “Growing Farm Profits” program. Farmers and ranchers can use these webinars as helpful business decision-making tools.

NCAT’s Arkansas office’s “Armed to Farm” program is training hundreds of U.S. veterans in sustainable farming skills and farm management. The successful program has begun to spread to other areas across the country, helping veterans gain the necessary skills and expertise to begin careers in sustainable farming.

Southern SARE will also be participating in the North American Fruit and Nut Growers Conference at the University of Georgia from Sunday, August 13 through Wednesday, August 16, 2017.

Western SARE

W-SARE has announced a call for proposals for the 2018 Professional Development grant program, the Farmer/Rancher grant program, and the Professional + Producer grant program.

The Professional Development grant program focuses on training agricultural professionals to help them spread knowledge about sustainable agriculture concepts and practices. PDP Grants are limited to $75,000 and can run up to three years. The deadline for 2018 Professional Development grants is November 1, 2017.

W-SARE’s Farmer/Rancher grants are awarded to agricultural producers with support and guidance from a technical advisor. Individual farmers or ranchers may apply for up to $20,000, and a group of three or more individuals may apply for up to $25,000. Grants last for one to three years and typically go towards on-farm experiments to improve operations and the environment as well as marketing and organic production. The deadline for 2018 Farmer/Rancher Grants is December 6, 2017.

Professional + Producer Development grants are similar in to the Farmer/Rancher Grants with a few key differences. Instead of a producer serving as the project coordinator, an agricultural professional coordinates the project. A farmer or rancher serves as the project advisor. Applicants can seek up to $50,000 and must have at least five producers involved. The deadline for 2018 Professional + Producer Grants is December 6, 2017.

In Oklahoma, Oklahoma State Cooperative Extension Service will be co-hosting one of four Summer Crops Conferences across the state. Speakers will include Oklahoma State cropping specialists and agronomists focusing on a wide range of crops. The Central Oklahoma Seminar will be held in El Reno, Oklahoma.

Categories: Grants and Programs, Research, Education & Extension


  1. Jeremy Menard says:

    Hello, I am a independent Environmental Scienctist who has been working on a organic, water efficient, agricultural system in the High Desert of Joshua Tree, CA. This system can be implemented both on a large industrial scale and a home owner scale. I am hoping to secure a grant or funding to help me finalize the project. How would an independent agricultural scientist trained in sustainable agriculture find the best path towards a grant? Thank you

  2. Reana Kovalcik says:

    Please check out our Grassroots Guide, which can be found on the publications page of our website. The guide walks through all the types of federal grants that are available in the sustainable agriculture field, and should give you an indication of what, if any, resources might be available for your specific work.