Applications for sustainable agricultural research grants are available through USDA. The agencyâ€™s North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) Producer Grant program funds competitive grants to producers with an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable idea.
"A lot of good ideas are generated at the producer level," says Jim Faulstich, a South Dakota cattle producer who received an NCR-SARE producer grant in 2002.
Projects must be environmentally sound, socially responsible, and likely profitable, and show a potential benefit to other farmers in the North Central Region, according to USDA.
Producers must live in the 12-state region: Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Roughly $400,000 will be available on a competitive basis. Grants limits for individuals are $6,000 and groups of three or more independent producers can receive up to $18,000.
NCR-SARE has accepted proposals for a variety of projects, including weed and pest management, reducing off-farm inputs, marketing, improving water and soil quality, sustainable grazing techniques and recycling farm waste.
"The grant program emphasizes the importance of farmer-driven research and indigenous knowledge," says Ken Schneider, NCR-SAREâ€™s producer grant liaison and a former farmer/rancher. "We support innovative farmers and rancher looking for ways to overcome obstacles to a sustainable operation."
The proposals are evaluated in the spring, applicants are notified in late summer and funds are usually available early fall.
For more information, go to NCR-SAREâ€™s Web site to download the application. You can also contract the NCR-SARE office and be put on the application mailing list.