Look for a call from the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education for proposals for the latest round of grants.
SARE offers grants in five categories for 2014, the year in which this year's winning proposals will be triggered. Among those categories are:
•Research and Education Cooperative Projects Grants involving scientists, producers and others using interdisciplinary approaches to address issues related to sustaining agriculture. Pre-proposals will be due in June, 2013, with final proposals filed by a Nov., 2013 deadline.
•Professional Development Program Grants focused on training ag professionals to help them spread knowledge of sustainable practices. PDG grants are limited to $75,000 and can run for up to three years. Proposals are due Oct., 2013.
•Producer Grants, which can also run three years, are for activities conducted by ag producers with support and guidance of a technical adviser. Individuals may apply for up to $15,000, and a group of three or more producers may request up to $25,000 for on-site experiments improving their operations help the environment. Grant recipients may focus on marketing or organic production among other options. Proposals are due Dec., 2013.
•Professional, Producer Grants for up to three years differ from Producer Grants with the coordinator being an ag professional in Cooperative Extension or the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The farmer serves as the project adviser in this type of grant which can run up to $50,000 and must involve no less than five growers. Proposals are due Dec., 2013.
•Graduate Student Grants in Sustainable Agriculture of up to $25,000 may last up to two years. Eligibility includes those applying for a masters or Ph.D degree as full time students at an accredited college or university in the West. Proposals are due in May, 2013.
SARE goals for projects are aimed at promoting good stewardship, says Phil Rasmussen, regional coordinator of the western program in Logan, Utah.
He explains that this goal strives to enhance site-specific, regional and profitable sustainable farming and ranching methods that strengthen agricultural competiveness, satisfy human food and fiber needs, maintain and enhance the quality and productivity of soil, conserve soil and water, energy, natural resources and fish and wildlife habitat, and maintain and improve the quality of surface and ground water.
"We want to enhance the quality of life of farmers and ranchers and ensure the viability of rural communities," adds Rasmussen.
"Our aim is also to protect the health and safety of those involved in food and farm systems by reducing, where feasible and practical, the use of toxic materials in agricultural production."
SARE also works to promote crop, livestock and enterprise diversification in agriculture, he says. At the same time, the project works to examine regional, economic, social and environmental implications by adopting sustainable agriculture practices and systems, Rasmussen states.