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Sustainable Agriculture Research Funding Resources

Compiled by:

AFSIC staff
The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
National Agricultural Library
U.S. Department of Agriculture
10301 Baltimore Ave. Room 108
Beltsville, MD 20705
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Updated June 2017

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.


  1. Introduction
  2. General Information and Directories
  3. Selected Directories and Information Specific to Federal Agriculture Programs
  4. Federal Funding Programs by Agency
  5. 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,

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.

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.

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.

Community of Science Funding Opportunities Database
Subscription required for access.

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.  Updated 2014.
"This extensive directory of federal programs...was compiled... 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)
Updated weekly.

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.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

About Us
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."

Funding Mechanisms
"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 Database

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
Grants and Opportunities
AMS funding supports a variety of programs, including organic certification cost-share programs, efforts to expand farmers markets and other local food sources, and projects that address specialty crops.

USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

While not a direct source of grant funds, the ARS Office of Technology Transfer 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, and enhance U.S. trade.

B. Other Federal Agencies

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Find Current Funding Opportunities
EPA provides financial assistance or grants to qualified applicants to support a variety of environmental programs and activities. Contains information on CFDA Catalogue,, 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

IV. Foundations and Non-Government Organizations

Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA)
HRI funds "research that specifically deals with green industry related issues." Research projects focus on "significant problems," "regulatory issues and emerging opportunities in the nursery and landscape industry," "encourag[ing] environmentally responsible management practices," "increas[ing] nursery crop producers' business or financial expertise," and "improv[ing] and expand[s] the general market for plant material." HRI provides support to USDA's Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative (FNRI).

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

More Resources
Other non-governmental sources: Many additional organizations may offer educational programs or research grant opportunities. Most grant programs 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: