Farmers and ranchers who want to improve their operations through on-farm research, demonstrations or other educational projects can apply for the 2007 North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Farmer/Rancher grants.
The grants provide funds ranging from $6,000 per individual family to $18,000 for three families or more and encourage the use of sustainable agriculture methods. Grant proposals are due in the NCR-SARE office at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln by 4:30 p.m. Dec. 3.
The NCR-SARE grants are awarded based on the applicants' ability to describe how their project will be sustainable in terms of having long-term profitability, being good for the environment, producing healthy foods and being socially responsible, says Jim Peterson, Extension educator in Washington County.
In 2006, Nebraska had four successful grant proposals that received funding.
One past project involved families near Lincoln who used a SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant to learn about and develop artisan cheeses. Through the program, the families were able to develop several cheese varieties using both goat and dairy milk. The cheeses now are successfully sold at farmers markets and directly from on-farm sales.
Other past projects have included pest and disease management, soil conservation, local marketing, public education, waste management, agro-tourism and crop diversity.
This year, farmers and ranchers throughout the north central region will have the opportunity to apply for roughly $400,000 in grant assistance. The 12 states that comprise the north central region are Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
To assist potential applicants, Wyatt Fraas of the Center for Rural Affairs, based in Lyons, and Peterson, who is Nebraska coordinator of the SARE program, collaborated to develop a DVD. The DVD is available for loan at local UNL Extension offices. The DVD offers a complete explanation of the Farmer and Rancher Grant, information on how to apply, examples of successful applications and comments from a former grant evaluator. It also offers a PowerPoint presentation and examples to download to a computer.
Application forms and more information, including tips on applying for this grant, are available on the Web at http://ncr.sare.org/prod.htm. You can also contact Peterson at (402) 426-9455, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or Joan Benjamin at UNL's SARE office in Lincoln at (402) 472-0809, e-mail email@example.com.