March 4, 2015
Planting season is upon us, which means deadlines for federal farm and food grant programs are too! For farmers, ranchers, and groups who work with producers, the next few months are critical for successfully completing these applications on time.
NSAC has compiled a list of upcoming deadlines for federal food and farm grant applications and grant assistance workshops. If you farm or work with farmers, consult this list and share with those you know.
And make sure to check out our Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs for more information on how to apply and examples of the types of projects and activities funded through each program.
Programs are listed below in order of deadline immediacy.
Conservation Stewardship Program – March 13 (new contracts) and March 31 (contract renewals)
CSP is the largest working lands conservation program by acreage in the federal farm bill. CSP offers farmers the opportunity to earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities on their lands. NSAC’s Information Alert lists the variety of CSP enrollment options, including 119 conservation enhancements and 35 conservation practices. Interested farmers and ranchers should go to their local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) office and fill out the initial two-page application by Friday, March 13. Farmers that enrolled in CSP in 2011 are now eligible to renew their contracts for another five-year period before they expire at the end of 2015. NRCS has sent a letter with renewal information to all eligible contract holders; the initial request to enroll must be submitted to NRCS by Tuesday, March 31.
Beginner Farmer and Rancher Development Program – March 13
This program, also known as BFRDP, supports outreach and training to grow the next generation of farmers and ranchers. BFRDP provides grant funding to organizations offering technical assistance, including mentoring and apprenticeships, curriculum development, and land transfer strategies. BFRDP is the only federal program exclusively aimed at training the newest generation of farmers with entering, establishing, and managing successful operations. Electronic applications must be submitted via Grants.gov by 5:00pm EST on Friday, March 13.
Community Food Projects – March 17
The Community Food Project grants program awards funding to tribal organizations, non-profits, and public food program service providers who work to establish food security and community-based solutions in low-income communities. Applicants with experience in community food market development, job training in low-income communities, and coordination of food distribution are encouraged to apply. Electronic applications must be submitted via Grants.gov by 5:00pm EST on Tuesday, March 17.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program – Rolling Deadlines: March 20, April 17, May 15
EQIP is a voluntary working lands conservation program that offers farmers and ranchers cost-share funding and technical assistance for conservation projects on their land. The EQIP Organic Initiative provides funding to organic producers to address resource concerns with conservation practices. The EQIP High Tunnel Initiative provides financial and technical assistance to producers who want to establish high tunnels to extend the growing season on their farms. The rolling application deadlines for the EQIP General and special Initiatives are March 20, April 17, and May 15. Check in with your state or county NRCS office for additional EQIP application information, as rules vary from state to state.
Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program Workshops- Throughout March and April
This program, also known as FMLFPP, funds direct producer-to-consumer marketing channels and local and regional food business enterprises that act as intermediaries between producers and consumers. USDA and its partners are offering FMLFPP grant assistant workshops in 44 states throughout March and April of 2015 to help get potential applicants up to speed prior to submitting proposals. Access the full list of trainings with this interactive map.
Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – March 31 through June 10
The AFRI program provides research grants to academic and NGO research institutions to conduct research, education, and extension activities on a range of issues facing agricultural producers. Topics included in this year’s call for proposals include support for developing new and improved crop varieties, local and regional food systems, farm-generated ecological services, and the profitability of the next generation of small and medium-sized farm owners and operators. Program deadlines vary; see the RFA for specific deadlines. Proposals must be submitted through Grants.gov.
2014 Organic Production Survey – April 3
The 2014 Organic Production Survey specifically targets the growth, trends and challenges of the organic sector. A follow-on to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, this survey is critical to provide data on the organic industry, and better identify opportunities for growth for farmers wishing to transition to or expand organic production. This information has not been collected since 2008, and the new results will be available in August 2015. Organic producers and those transitioning to organic should submit their electronic versions of the survey by Friday, April 3.
Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program – April 13
This program, also known as the 2501 Program, provides grants to organizations who provide outreach, resources, and technical assistance to address the specific needs of minority farmers and ranchers and military veterans entering farming. Institutions and non-profits with demonstrated experience working with underserved, socially disadvantaged and/or veteran farmer communities should apply by Monday, April 13 through Grants.gov.
Organic Transitions Research, Education, and Extension Program – April 16
The Organic Transitions Program supports the development and implementation of research and education programs to increase the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers. This year the Organic Transitions Program focuses on soil conservation and climate change mitigation provided by organic farming systems, and will also prioritize education tools for professional agricultural advisers and the integration of cultural practices and allowable alternatives for prohibited substances. Land grant institutions, Hispanic-serving agricultural institutions, and other public and private academic institutions should apply by Thursday, April 16 through Grants.gov.
For more information on program specifics and eligibility, consult NSAC’s Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs.