Developing new ideas for productive, sustainable agriculture and its benefits takes time and money. The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, also known as SARE, offers grants and outreach to farmers, ranchers, researchers, and ag professionals.
SARE is run by four regional offices. Judy Gifford is a program liason in Maryland. She says the program supports innovative research to explore new practices and promote sustainability on the farm.
"We've funded cover crop research, we've done pasture research, we do research on minimum tillage, rotations, pest control, alternative pollinators, season extension, all kinds of ideas."
Gifford says the farmers coordinate their projects with university extension offices, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and other organizations. How the entities work together depends on the type of grant.
"We have what we call the mini-grants, and one is a farmer grant," says Gifford. "They come up with the idea and with an advisor, who's normally an extension agent, they write their proposal. The partnership grant is very similar except it's written by the extension agent with a strong farmer input in designing the research. And then the research and education programs are run by extension personnel, but it has to have a farmer involved in the idea, and it has to be driven by farmers."
SARE is funded by the USDA and the grant money can be used to pay for time, supplies, and outreach the recipients might do to share the information with other farmers.
The grants are competitive and come in two sizes – large, multi-year projects up to $300,000, and smaller shorter-term projects of $15,000 or less.
Writing a grant can be intimidating, so here are some tips to help you put a SARE proposal together
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