SARE is the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Serving farmers across the United States and outlying islands, SARE provides farm grants for research and education projects. This week, FarmRaise Premium members were able to sit down with Rob Myers, from the North Central SARE program, and ask their top questions about SARE’s popular “Farmer Rancher” grants. Below are some highlights from the discussion, as well as answers to commonly asked questions.
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SARE is a US Department of Agriculture program that supports on-farm research and education with grant funding for farmers. Operating across four regions of the country, SARE is made up of committees of farmers, ranchers, researchers and educators that evaluate and administer grant funding directly for farmers and agricultural professionals.
Some highlights of the Farmer Rancher grant program
Go to the SARE project search page and enter keywords describing your farm in the search for “project title.” To broaden the search, in the “project report” section you can search by region or state as well.
Yes, SARE funds greenhouse projects and indoor farming projects.
Each of the four SARE regions has a detailed set of guidelines on how to apply for the SARE farmer/rancher (or alternatively called the producer) grants. To find the guidelines, just go to www.sare.org, click on the region your state is in, then look under grants for the producer or farmer/rancher grants. The guidelines will be there along with general tips or overview. It is also recommended you talk to the SARE farmer grant coordinator for your region.
We have funded SARE producer grants on fairly conventional farms, but the project needs to involve trying out a new practice or approach that holds potential for improving the sustainability of the farm.
SARE grants are not tied to the size of the farm, so any size farm is eligible as long as it meets the definition of a farm for the relevant SARE region.
The proposal will be most likely to be funded if you explain how you are going to test different methods of doing something and compare it to your current approach. We wouldn’t typically fund just spending time gathering information on a topic. For example, if you’re looking into a new nutrient management regime, you will be more likely to get funded if you can articulate a research question and a plan to address it. So you might create test strips and compare your current NM regime with a new regime you want to try.
Project can be unique to your farm, but at least some components of the project should be of interest to other farmers. SARE is less likely to fund a project where only one farmer will ever benefit from what is learned. Be specific on your methods, make it clear what you are comparing, and be sure to talk about how the project holds potential for improving sustainability of your operation.
Pretty much any type of crop is eligible for a project, but the project needs to contribute to sustainability. If the crop of interest is a really minor or obscure crop, be sure to explain how work on this crop might create opportunity for other farmers in your region.
The project length varies a little by region (most are 2 years) but work on a longer term problem is perfectly fine. You can still have a field tour, for example, that shows your initial results from the project period.
You are required to file a report. If you’re doing a 1-year project, just one report is due at the end of that year. If you’re doing a 2-year project, one report is due midway through and another at the end.
The USDA often talks about special programs available to “historically underserved” farmers and ranchers. So, who is historically underserved and what could it mean for your operation if you fit in the characteristics?
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