Farmers and ranchers with unique problems who think they have ways to solve them can get funding to try their solutions, says David Fernandez, Cooperative Extension Program livestock specialist at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Producer Grant program provides up to $10,000 to farmers and ranchers to conduct projects to solve problems and develop information to benefit farmers and ranchers with similar problems. The deadline for proposal submission is Thursday, Nov. 15. Successful grant applications will be announced in March 2013.
SSARE producer grants are not designed to pay a farmer to farm, Fernandez said. They are designed to take some of the financial risk away from trying a solution. Projects must be developed, coordinated and conducted by farmers or ranchers or a producer organization.
Producer organizations are eligible for grants up to $15,000.
Sustainable agriculture is an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application, that over the long term, enhance environmental quality, make the most efficient use of nonrenewable and on-farm resources, sustain the economic viability of farm operations and enhance the quality of life for farmers/ranchers and society as a whole.
Successful projects must include cooperators (other farmers, researchers, extension agents, governmental or non-governmental organizations) who cooperate in planning, data collection or outreach of results; an outreach plan and clear goals.
Grant funds may be used for costs of sampling and sampling analysis; materials and supplies for the project; outreach expenses, such as conducting a field day; field day refreshments; travel at 55.5 cents per mile needed for the project and hired labor for things the producer cannot do.
However, grant funds cannot be used to buy equipment, start or expand a farming operation or make permanent improvements. Nor can they be used for lunches or full meals at field days or testing of commercial products, Fernandez said.
Examples of funded grant projects include sustainable pumpkin production in the southeast; silvopasture for forage, cattle and trees; and soil building and fertility through cover cropping among limited resource farmers.
Proposals must reflect SSARE focus areas selected by the Producer Grant Review Committee as needing investigation. These include beneficial insect habitat, alternative crops/animals, organic agriculture, sustainable marketing projects and appropriate technology. For a complete listing of the nine focus areas and examples of possible projects, check the SSARE website. Farmers can also access a complete list of funded projects at http://www.southernsare.org/Grants/Types-of-Grants/Producer-Grants.
Or, producers can also contact Fernandez at (870) 575-7214 or email@example.com for help with a proposal or for more information.