2021 Available Program Funding: Varies by state. 

Grant Size:

$20,000 – 2 yr. project

Project Period:

September 2021: Calls for Proposals Released

December 3, 2021: Proposals Due

February 2022: Selected Proposals Funded and Announced

Income Requirement:

Does not require matching funds

On-Farm Research grants are part of the USDA-funded Southern Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education (SSARE) producer award programs. The goal of the program is to develop new and innovative sustainable agriculture production methods. Since 2002, On-Farm Research Grants have been available to agricultural specialists working directly with farmers and ranchers on sustainable agriculture initiatives. On-Farm Research Grants have no pre-proposal requirements, and applicants are not required to demonstrate specific outcomes in a detailed manner.. 

A planned project focusing on sustainable agriculture methods and methodologies to address a specific on-farm issue must be included in the program. Applicants would be expected to work closely with farmers and ranchers as part of their job. The principal occupation of the selected farmer/rancher cooperator must be farming or ranching, or a part-time producer. The farmer.rancher must own or operate a farm with family or partners, and their operation must generate at least $1,000 in annual revenue. The applicant must also include an outreach component to inform the rest of the agricultural community about the results of his or her initiative.

Who is Eligible to Apply?

On-Farm Research Grants are open to agricultural experts who work with farmers and ranchers on a regular basis. Extension professionals, university researchers, government agencies such as the NRCS, non-governmental organizations, community organizations, and other groups or persons, such as ag consultants, are examples of these. Each funding cycle, an applicant may only submit one proposal.

Applicants must complete a proposal describing their project and explaining how it will help farmers or ranchers understand and adopt sustainable agriculture practices.

Where to Get Help

Help with the grant applications can be obtained from the USDA website:


How Can I Use the Funds?

On-Farm Grants are designed for 2-year projects that research and study agricultural issues and how they relate to or affect sustainable agriculture. On-Farm Research Grant funds may be used for the following purposes:

Allowable Expenses Non-allowable Expenses

Costs of sampling and sample analysis. This can include in-field data collection or lab data analysis.

Renting equipment needed for the project. Materials and supplies needed for the project. The materials and supplies must remain within the scope of the project and be a reasonable request relative to the research being conducted.

Travel needed for the project, which can include lodging, mileage and meals.
Hiring labor needed to effectively conduct and complete the project within the proposed timetable.

Expenses related to the project’s outreach plan. This can include holding a field day, workshop, farm tour or demonstration program

Refreshments at educational events, such as workshops or field days.  
Starting a farm, NGO, business or other community organization, or expanding an existing farm, NGO, business or other community organization.

Providing any kind financial support relative to the operation of the farm, NGO, business of community organization.
Providing support of any kind for capital expenses or permanent farm improvements.

Any item that has permanent use beyond the life of the grant project is not allowed. Breakfasts, lunches or other full meals for the project’s outreach plan, or educational/resource event or program. Testing of commercial products. Products must be explored in broad generalizations

How Are Projects Evaluated?

Grant proposals are considered in two steps after the proposal deadline has passed. First, technical reviewers rate and comment on proposals based on technical/scientific value and relevance to sustainable agriculture, adherence to SSARE program goals, soundness of approaches/methods, timeliness, realistic budget (allowable expenses), and applicant qualifications.

The Producer grant committee considers high-scoring projects and evaluates technical reviewer comments to make final project selections once the initial evaluations are completed. The status of applicants’ applications is communicated to them by email. Applications will be contacted if they are selected.