Sustainable Agriculture Research Funding Resources
The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
National Agricultural Library
U.S. Department of Agriculture
10301 Baltimore Ave. Room 132
Beltsville, MD 20705
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Updated June 2016; Reviewed May 2020
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-can-i-find-agricultural-funding-resources.
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.
The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center's factsheet, Applying for a SARE Grant?, identifies information that can assist with conducting on-farm research, resources on the grant-making process, and referrals to online sources and expertise.
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 26 Federal Agencies. Grantseekers can search for programs offered throughout the across Federal government and/or register to receive all e-mail notifications of new grant postings.
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 Conservation 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.
Federal Funding Databases, Rural Information Center, National Agricultural Library, 2019
The Rural Federal Funding Database has been discontinued. Search Assistance Listings for information on all federal domestic programs and search Grants.gov for information on "more than 900 federal grant programs."
Funding Opportunities, ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)
III. Federal Funding Programs by Agency
A. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)
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 research or projects that address specialty crops.
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.
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)
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 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.
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 then provide farmers with risk management and crop insurance education, community outreach and assistance, and research and development activities.
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, 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
- National Association of State Departments of Agriculture http://www.nasda.org/
- Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs: Sustainable and Organic Research. http://sustainableagriculture.net/publications/grassrootsguide/sustainable-organic-research/
IV. Foundations and Non-Government Organizations
The Ceres Trust
Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), AmericanHort Foundation
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 USDA's Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative (FNRI).
Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
The Leopold Center's Competitive Grant's Program supports research and demonstration projects in areas that enhance sustainability for Iowa agriculture.
Newman’s Own Foundation
Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF)
OFRF facilitates research about organic farming in the United States. Their grantmaking initiative "expands the adoption of organic farming and practices while addressing urgent issues faced by many organic farmers in America."
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Other non-governmental sources may offer educational programs or research grant opportunities. Most grant programs are related to specific topics, commodities, populations and/or regions. Non-profit organizations (farm, animal welfare, or food and consumer groups); trade and commodity organizations; or private companies (e.g., commercial food manufacturers and distributors, farm and livestock suppliers, etc.) may offer support for special projects. Some helpful directories include:
- 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 https://www.foodinstitute.com/assn_natl