Sustainable agriculture has funding opportunities for all types of agricultural practitioners

In 2012, more than 110 projects received funding. If you have an innovative idea, consider applying for a NCR-SARE grant.

The North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) Program awarded $2.7 million in grants to more than 110 projects (projects recommended for funding)  through its annual competitive grant programs. NCR-Sare’s grant programs offer competitive grants for producers, scientists, educators, institutions, organizations and others who are exploring sustainable agriculture in America’s Midwest.

Michigan State University is one of 12 universities partners in NCR-SARE.

For the 2012 Research and Education Grant Program, NCR-SARE awarded more than $1.5 million to nine projects. Amounts awarded ranged from $47,067 to $200,000. The Research and Education Grant Program is a competitive grant program for researchers and educators involved in projects that explore and promote environmentally sound, profitable and socially responsible food or fiber systems. Research and education projects include a strong outreach component and significant farmer/rancher or other end user involvement from the inception of the idea through implementation of the project.

For the 2012 Farmer Rancher Grant Program, NCR-SARE awarded more than $545,000 to 53 projects, with grants ranging from $1,264 to $22,500. The Farmer Rancher Grant Program is a competitive grant program for farmers and ranchers who want to explore sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration and education projects. 

For the 2012 Graduate Student Grant Program, NCR-SARE awarded more than $168,000 to 17 projects, with grants ranging from $9,445 to $10,000. The Graduate Student Grant Program is a competitive grant program to fund graduate student projects that address sustainable agriculture issues.

For the 2012 Youth Educator Grant Program, NCR-SARE awarded more than $40,000 to 21 projects. Grants ranged from $1,895 to $2,000. The Youth Educator Grant Program supports educators who seek to provide programming on sustainable agriculture for youth. 

 For the 2012 Youth Grant Program, NCR-SARE awarded more than $3,000 to eight projects. Grants were all around $400. The Youth Grant Program has provided grants for on-farm research, demonstration or education projects by youth ages 8 to 18. Research and demonstration projects were awarded funding for hands-on efforts to explore sustainable agriculture issues and practices. Education projects could involve teaching others about sustainable agriculture or attending a sustainable agriculture conference, workshop or camp. (Although grants were awarded for 2012, this program has been discontinued.)

Earlier this year, NCR-SARE awarded more than $441,000 to six projects ranging from $42,472 to $75,000 for the 2011 Professional Development Grant Program. The Professional Development Grant Program is a competitive grant program that emphasizes training agricultural educators in Extension, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the private and not-for-profit sectors, using farmers as educators and addressing emerging issues in the farm community.

To view more information about the grants funded in your state, visit the NCR-SARE website, where you can view a portfolio summary and funded grants list for every state and island protectorate.

NCR-SARE administers these grant programs, and each has specific priorities, audiences and timelines. The focus of the NCR-SARE grant programs is on research and education. Funding considerations are made on the basis of how well the applicants articulate the nature of the research and education components of their sustainable agriculture grant proposals.

NCR-SARE’s Administrative Council (AC) members decide which projects will receive SARE funds. A collection of farm and non-farm citizens, the AC includes a diverse mix of agricultural stakeholders in the region. Council members hail from regional farms and ranches, the Cooperative Extension Service, universities and nonprofit organizations. In addition, regional representatives of the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and NCR agribusinesses, state agencies and foundations sit at the table to distribute grant money.

Since 1988, the SARE program has helped advance farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities through a nationwide research and education grants program. The program, part of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, funds projects and conducts outreach designed to improve agricultural systems.

For help putting together a NCR-SARE grant, contact Dale Mutch or Dean Vaas, MSU Extension, St. Joseph County, at 269-467-5511.

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