Grants Available for Sustainable Ag Ventures

USDA money to promote ideas from farmers. Compiled by staff

Published on: Jan 7, 2004

Applications for sustainable agricultural research grants are available through USDA. The agency’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-SARE’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-SARE’s Web site to download the application. You can also contract the NCR-SARE office and be put on the application mailing list.