Sustainable Agriculture Research Funding Resources
The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
National Agricultural Library
U.S. Department of Agriculture
10301 Baltimore Ave. Room 123
Beltsville, MD 20705 (AFSIC)
Ask a Question
Reviewed October 2015
This resource is part of our Sustainable Agriculture: Information Access Tools tutorial which identifies outstanding sources that address sustainable agriculture, research and information sources, contacts and experts, research funding sources, educational and career opportunities, and upcoming events.
- General Information and Directories
- Selected Directories and Information Specific to Federal Agriculture Programs
- Federal Funding Programs by Agency
- Foundations and Non-Government Organizations
This fact sheet lists U.S. government and non-government entities that provide funding for research activities related to sustainable agriculture including organic farming and food, integrated pest management, water quality issues related to agriculture, rural community and small farm topics, alternative and value-added marketing practices, and more. Emphasis is on research funds, not farming, housing, regulatory or compliance funding. For these, see Where Can I Find Agricultural Funding Sources, https://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/where-find-sustainable-agriculture-research-online
Availability of research funds varies according to applicant category: some funds are available to individuals, some to organizations and some to agencies. There may be additional stipulations. Contacting each program office separately for complete information is highly recommended.
Information services that can assist with the grant-making process – pointers to texts on grant application strategies, complimentary literature searches and referrals to online sources and expertise – are available from the Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) at the National Agricultural Library. See Applying for a SARE Grant?
This listing is not meant to be comprehensive. Although we have checked contact and applicability information, AFSIC does not guarantee the accuracy of the information nor does it endorse any program. We appreciate any comments, suggestions and/or corrections. Send them to our Ask a Question form. Be sure to select the Topical Area: Alternative Farming.
I. General Information and Directories
Created through a partnership of Federal Agencies, this site directs grant seekers to programs offered across Federal grant-making Agencies. Using the “Search” function, one can search for grant opportunities throughout the Federal government and/or register to receive all e-mail notifications of new grant postings.
Community of Science Funding Opportunities Database
Subscription required for access.
The Foundation Center
"The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. grantmakers and their grants – a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector." In addition to the Web site, there are five regional library/learning centers and a network of "more than 450 Funding Information Network locations nationwide and around the world." Information and directories for individual and non-profit grantseekers.
II. Selected Directories and Information Specific to Federal Agriculture Programs
Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities: Federal Programs for Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry, Entrepreneurship, Conservation and Community Development, by Margaret Krome, Teresa Maurer and Katie Wied, 2009
“This extensive directory of federal programs that offer assistance in sustainable agriculture, forestry, conservation and community development was compiled in 2009 by U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies working together for sustainable rural development, in collaboration with The Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and the National Center for Appropriate Technology. This guide is written for anyone seeking help from federal programs to foster innovative enterprises in agriculture and forestry in the United States.”
Federal Funding Sources for Rural Areas Database, Rural Information Center, National Agricultural Library, 2015
“Search the database for information on rural federal programs. Full program description and contact information for each program. This database is in cooperation with the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.”
Federal Resources for Sustainable Farming and Ranching ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, Updated November 2014
This publication offers an overview of the major federal conservation programs that provide resources for farmers and ranchers to enhance and maintain sustainable farming and ranching practices.
Funding Opportunities, ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)
IPM Grants and Reports, Pennsylvania Integrated Pest Management Program (PA IPM).
III. Federal Funding Programs by Agency
A. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Current Research Information System (CRIS)
The Current Research Information System is USDA's documentation and reporting system for ongoing and recently completed research projects in agriculture, food and nutrition and forestry. Explore currently funded research topics and programs by funding agency, topic area, region, etc. http://cris.nifa.usda.gov/
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
“Through grants offered by NIFA, the USDA enables researchers throughout the United States to solve problems critical to our farmers, consumers, and communities. NIFA is the USDA's major extramural research agency, funding individuals: institutions: and public, private, and non-profit organizations.” Information about Research Emphasis Areas; Types of Research; Who Does the Research and Research Program Development and Management.
Programs and Funding Opportunities
Site includes links to information about the NIFA Programs. "Some programs administer funding and offer leadership while others focus on national leadership and collaboration."
"NIFA supports research, education, and extension activities through three primary funding mechanisms: competitive grants, capacity grants, and non-competitive grants."
Regional IPM Centers: Funding Opportunities
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)
Program offers three different types of grants for funding of relevant research projects: Research and Education, Professional Development, and Producer Grants.
USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA)
Partnership and Cooperative Agreements
"RMA" annually announces availability of funds for partnership and cooperative agreements via the Federal Register and its Web site. Partners conduct risk management and crop insurance education, community outreach and assistance, and research and development activities.”
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service
Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP)
“The Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) was created through an amendment of the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976. “The purpose of the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) is to increase domestic consumption of, and access to, locally and regionally produced agricultural products, and to develop new market opportunities for farm and ranch operations serving local markets by developing, improving, expanding, and providing outreach, training, and technical assistance to, or assisting in the development, improvement, and expansion of, domestic farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agritourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities.”
USDA Rural Development (RD)
Information, loan and grant resources for a variety of community-based programs aimed at helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America including: Rural Cooperative Development Grants; Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG); Research on Rural Cooperative Opportunities and Problems Program; and funds related to 1890 Land-Grants, Research on the Economic Impact of Cooperatives, and Small/Minority Producer Grants.
USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
While not a direct source of grant funds, “ARS continually looks for opportunities to partner with businesses, other federal agencies, state and local governments, and universities. These partnerships are designed to augment research programs, expedite research results to the private sector, exchange information and knowledge, stimulate new business and economic development, enhance U.S. trade, preserve the environment, and improve the quality of life for all Americans.” Information, licensing information and contacts.
B. Other Federal Agencies
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Find Current Funding Opportunities
Contains information on CFDA Catalogue, Grants.gov, Policy for Competition of Assistance Agreements, and EPA's Resources for Small Business.
U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Science
Colleges and universities, non-profit organizations, for-profit commercial organizations, state and local governments and unaffiliated individuals may submit grant applications in response to grant solicitation notices. Programs include the Biomass Research and Development Initiative.
C. Other Federal, Regional and State Government Resources to Consider
- NIFA Partners: See NIFA State and National Partners https://nifa.usda.gov/partnerships
- National Association of State Departments of Agriculture http://www.nasda.org/
- Fish and Wildlife agencies http://www.fws.gov/offices/statelinks.html
- Rural and Conservation Development (RC&D) offices. http://narcdc.org/rcd-regional-associations.html
- Water Resources and Environmental agencies
IV. Foundations and Non-Government Organizations
Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA)
“HRI strives to fund research that specifically deals with green industry related issues. HRI-supported projects focus on significant problems, regulatory issues and emerging opportunities in the nursery and landscape industry. HRI research encourages environmentally responsible management practices, increases nursery crop producers' business or financial expertise, and improves and expands the market for plant material.”
Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
The Ceres Trust
Newman’s Own Foundation
Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation
“The Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation promotes a sustainable and just social and natural system by supporting grassroots organizations and movements committed to this goal.”
The Organic Center
Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF)
OFRF’s “grantmaking objective is to generate practical, science-based knowledge to support modern organic farming systems. OFRF-funded project emphasize grower-researcher collaboration, studies conducted on-farm and/or in certified organic settings, and outreach of project results.”
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Other non-governmental sources: Many additional organizations may offer research grant opportunities. Most are related to specific commodities, topics, populations and/or regions. Non-profit organizations – farm, animal welfare, food and consumer groups; trade and commodity organizations; private companies – commercial food manufacturers and distributors, farm and livestock suppliers, etc. – may offer support for special projects. Some helpful directories:
- Organizations and Information Providers: Sustainable Agriculture, AFSIC https://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/sustainable-agriculture-organizations-and-information-providers
- Educational and Training Opportunities in Sustainable Agriculture, AFSIC https://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/edtr/sustainable-agriculture-education-directory
- Food Industry National and Regional Associations on the Internet, The Food Institute