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Small Farms

Competitive Funding Opportunities in 2009 Relevant to Small and Mid-sized Agricultural Operations

NIFA manages several funding programs that focus on issues relevant to small-scale farming and ranching, awarding grants to qualified institutions and organizations, selected competitively through peer panel reviews and recommendations. Most programs are administered at the national level, but two (Risk Management and SARE) operate through regional centers.

Some of these programs are highlighted below, with brief descriptions of previously funded proposals, but be sure to read each program’s official Request For Applications carefully for specific information.

Eligibility, for example, varies among the programs. Agricultural Prosperity for Small and Medium-Sized Farms, for example, is open to a wide range of institutions, organizations, and even individuals. "Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers" has a somewhat narrower range of eligibility.

Many of the programs require an interdisciplinary approach. A successful proposal will include social, biological, and other disciplinary approaches, appropriate to the goals of the particular funding program.

Several of the programs are "integrated." In other words, to be funded, a proposal should combine at least two of the three components of the agricultural knowledge system (research, education, and extension), with each component playing a significant role. The project should also include a collaborative team approach, contain strong plans for project management and project evaluation, and produce sustained education/extension initiatives.

Before submitting to one of these programs, it is a good idea to contact its program director directly to fully understand what is wanted–the purpose of a program and any priorities there may be for the current funding year.

Check out the NIFA Web site for tips on writing a successful proposals, as well as grantsmanship workshops. The Web site also provides assistance for on-line proposal submission through   



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