The North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension (NCR-SARE) program of the USDA has called for proposals, with a deadline of December 3. The NCR-SARE program has allocated about $400,000 for the 2009 Farmer/Rancher Grant Program. Competitive grants of up to $6,000 are available for individual farmers and ranchers, and grants up to $18,000 are available for groups of three or more farmers from separate operations who are interested in exploring sustainable agriculture. NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grants provide opportunities for farmers and ranchers to use Sustainable Agriculture practices and their own innovative ideas to solve problems on the farm or ranch, and to share their ideas with others.

Sustainable Agriculture is farming and ranching that is ecologically sound, profitable, and socially responsible. Sustainable Agriculture practices may include but are not limited to:

  •  Integrated Pest Management (IPM) 
  •  Rotational Grazing (including Management-intensive Grazing & Mob Grazing)
  • Soil Erosion Control
  • Soil Quality Improvement
  •  Water Quality Improvement/Wetlands
  • Cover Crops
  • Crop/Landscape Diversity
  • Nutrient Management
  • Agroforestry
  •  Value-Added & Direct Marketing
  •  Wildlife Preservation
  • Beneficial Insects
  • Poultry & Small-Scale Livestock Production
  • Holistic/Systems Approaches to Farming & Ranching
  • Organic Agriculture
  • Alternative Weed Control

During the past 17 years of the Farmer/Rancher Grant Program, over 700 grants were awarded to farmers and ranchers studying topics such as holistic management, rotational grazing, livestock and crop production systems, waste management, weed control, alternative uses for CRP land, biological weed and pest control, organic farming, marketing, quality of life issues, water quality, and soil conservation.

Farmer/Rancher Grants are for sustainable agriculture research, demonstration, and education projects; they are NOT for everyday farming expenses.

  • Applicants must identify specific problems and potential solutions to those problems.
  • Maximum duration for grant projects is   24 months.
  • Projects that involve whole farm systems and/or a youth component are encouraged.
  • Livestock projects need to comply with reasonable animal care requirements to insure that animals are properly cared for.

Any farmer/rancher or group of farmers/ranchers who farm or operate a ranch in the North Central Region may apply. The North Central Region consists of 12 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.   Farmers and rancher submitting grant proposals may be just beginning the transition to a more sustainable operation or may already be using sustainable practices and want to implement additional changes. (Grants to applicants under 21 will need to be signed by a parent or guardian over 21. Youth may also apply to the NCR-SARE Youth Grant Program. Contact NCR-SARE for more information at or (800) 529-1342.)

Find more information and details on how to apply for grants on the NCR-SARE website.

Source: North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension