By Rob Sirrine
The North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Farmer and Rancher grant program is now accepting applications from qualified farmers and ranchers. The program, which began in 1992, is for producers interested in enhancing the sustainability of their operations. Specifically, it is for conducting on-farm research, demonstration and/or education. Proposals that have been funded in the past generally seek to improve profitability, environmental stewardship, and enhance rural communities. There are several benefits to the program. First. Proposals can be multi-year endeavors. Depending upon the proposal, often one year is not sufficient to document outcomes; the NCR SARE farmer/rancher grant can be up to two years in length. Second, multiple farmers can apply together. Individual farmers can apply for up to $7500, two farmers can apply for up to $15,000 and a group of three or more can apply for up to $22,500. Finally, NCR SARE keeps a database of previously funded proposals that offer a wealth of information for farmers seeking to apply.
Many Michigan proposals have been funded over the last few years. Successful applicants generally are clearly written, attempt to address a specific issue, have a well justified and detailed budget, have an effective and well-conceived dissemination plan, pay farmers for their time and effort, and have solicited the assistance of Michigan State University Extension, the USDA NRCS, or a local Conservation District. Developing a relationship with one of these entities can also result in a letter of support, which is needed as well.