Upcoming Deadlines for Federal Food and Farm Programs

      Posted On: May 17, 2016

Article reposted with permission from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Searching for pollinators near Mt. Hood. Photo credit: Margo Conner Xerces Society

Searching for pollinators near Mt. Hood. Photo credit: Margo Conner Xerces Society

In order to lessen the stress of application time, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has compiled a list of upcoming deadlines for federal food and farm grant applications and grant assistance workshops. If you farm or work with farmers, consult this list and share with those you know.

Also, make sure to check out NSAC’s Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs for more information on how to apply and examples of the types of projects and activities funded through each program.

Programs are listed below in order of deadline immediacy.

Western SARE Research and Education Grants – June 1
The Research and Education Grants program fund projects that usually involve scientists, producers, and others in an interdisciplinary approach. Many projects involve on-farm research trials, economic analysis, and outreach. The program also funds education and demonstration projects. The pre-proposal deadline is June 1, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. PST.

Food Safety Outreach Program – June 2
The Food Safety Outreach Program (FSOP) will provide up to $4.7 million in funding for on-the-ground outreach and education programs, with a focus on funding for community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, food hubs, farm cooperatives, extension, and other local groups. The Request for Applications (RFA) states that successful applicants will be expected to coordinate their activities with the Regional Centers for FSMA Training. Funding is available for Pilot ProjectsCommunity Outreach Projects, and Multistate Education and Training Projects. Additional information is available via Grants.gov, or the FSOP webpageApplications are due June 2, 2016. 

Southern SARE – Research and Education Grants – June 3
Research and Education Grants fund projects that usually involve scientists, producers, and others in an interdisciplinary approach. Many projects involve on-farm research trials, economic analysis, and outreach. The program also funds education and demonstration projects. Research and Education Grants award up to 3 years of research activities. The funding range generally falls between $100,000 and $300,000. Pre-proposal application deadline is 5 p.m. EST, June 3, 2016

Southern SARE Professional Development Grants – June 3
Professional Development Grants spread knowledge about sustainable concepts and practices among Cooperative Extension Service staff and other agricultural professionals using a variety of approaches, from workshops to educational videos and on-farm training sessions. When applying for this grant, please refer to the guidelines in the Call for Proposal and carefully follow the application procedures. Pre-proposal application deadline is 11:59 p.m. EST, June 3, 2016.

Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program  – June 20 & 23
$5.8 million in funding is available for the Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program (RCBG). The goal of RCBG is to improve the economic condition of rural areas by assisting individuals and businesses in the startup, expansion or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other mutually-owned businesses through Cooperative Development Centers. Only non-profit organizations and institutions of higher education are eligible to apply for this program. Guidelines for the application process are available in the Request for Applications. Those interested in applying should contact their USDA Rural Development State OfficeThe deadline to submit paper applications is June 23, while electronic applications are due June 20 through grants.gov.

Value-Added Producer Grants – June 24 & July 1
Administered by USDA Rural Development, the Value-Added Producers Grant (VAPG) program provides competitive grants to producers for working capital, feasibility studies, business plans, and marketing efforts to establish viable value-added businesses. In 2016, up to $44 million is available in competitive grants through the VAPG program. Those interested in applying should check out NSAC’s annual Farmers Guide to the VAPG Program, a unique resource that walks farmers through the program’s application requirements, including a step-by-step description of the application and ranking processes. Other resources include a USDA “toolkit” for applicants, which includes an application checklist, templates, required grant forms, and instructions (found under the “Forms & Resources” tab). The deadline to submit paper applications is July 1, while electronic applications are due June 24 through grants.gov.

Also, please note that we hosted a joint USDA – NSAC webinar about VAPG applications on May 6th. You can access a free recording of the webinar here.

Risk Management Education Program – July 3
The Risk Management Education (RME) Program funds projects to provide farmers with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to make informed risk management decisions for their operations. The request for applications is available here under CFDA number 10.460.

Applications for RME Partnerships are due by 11:59 p.m. EST on July 3, 2016. All applications must be submitted electronically through the Results Verification System website.

Crop Insurance in Targeted States Program – July 3
The Crop Insurance in Targeted States Program supports the development of crop insurance education programs in states with low levels of federal crop insurance participation. States targeted for funding in 2016 include CT, DE, HI, ME, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, UT, VT, WV, and WY. The request for applications is available here under CFDA number 10.458.

Applications for the Crop Insurance in Targeted States Program are due by 11:59 p.m. EST on July 3, 2016. All applications must be submitted electronically through the Results Verification System website.

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program – July 6
The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) provides grants on an annual basis to assist state departments of agriculture in enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops. Often, states partner with nonprofit organizations, producer groups, and colleges and universities to develop their application and administer the program. States can use the block grants to supplement state-run specialty crop programs and/or make grants available for projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. AMS has made available $62 million in funding for FY 2016. Organizations interested in applying for SCBGP funds should do so directly through their state department of agriculture. A listing of state contacts and how to apply with state application due dates, can be found hereState departments of agriculture must submit their applications to AMS by July 6, 2016.

FSA Cooperative Agreements for Education and Outreach to Underserved Farmers – July 11 
FSA recently announced 55 new cooperative agreements with nonprofits, associations, universities, and foundations that will provide training and information on FSA programs that provide financial, disaster or technical support. FSA is now accepting proposals for consideration in the second evaluation period, with applications due no later than July 11, 2016. Projects not selected during the first evaluation period will be reconsidered during the second period, though groups who submitted may modify their proposals if they wish. New proposals are also welcome. Additional information on the funding solicitation and the related FSA programs can be found at http://www.grants.gov/ using reference number USDA-FSA-CA-2016-001. If you are considering participation, you can listen to a recording of the online informational session held with stakeholders is posted on the web at www.fsa.usda.gov/outreach.

GroupGAP Certification – Available Now
GAP (short for “good agricultural practices) certification is a USDA audit program through which producers can demonstrate their compliance with food safety requirements to purchasers and retailers. GroupGAPprovides an alternative option for small and mid-sized farms, wherein grower groups, farmer coops, and food collaborative can share the certification cost by pooling together. USDA offers several resources for potential GroupGAP applicants, including the GroupGAP User’s Guide and a fact sheet for growers. To apply for a GroupGAP audit service, producers must complete a one-page application. For wholesalers and distributors interested in requesting audit service, an agreement for participation is available here. You can also learn more via the Introduction to GroupGAP guide, offered by the Wallace Center, an NSAC member organization.

Farmer Storage Facility Loans – Rolling Deadline
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides low-interest loans through the Farm Storage Facility Loans (FSFL) program for farmers to build storage units, upgrade and expand existing storage, or purchase mobile storage facilities. In April 2016, FSA expanded FSFL to finance portable storage structures, portable equipment, and storage and handling trucks in addition to continuing its longstanding capacity to finance stationary crop and cold storage on-farm facilities. Application materials should be filed with your local FSA office. To find your local office, use the service center locator.

Organic Field Buffer Initiative – Rolling Deadline
The Organic Field Buffer Initiative, which is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) as part of the Conservation Reserve Program’s (CRP) Continuous Sign-up (CCRP), aims to establish up to 20,000 acres of new conservation buffers. The initiative makes cost-share payments available to help farmers with the financial burden of establishing the buffers. For those interested in applying to the program, NSAC published the “Organic Farmer’s Guide to Conservation Reserve Program: Field Border Buffer Initiative.” Unlike the general sign-ups that occur under other CRP programs, CCRP producers may enroll at any time throughout the year.