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URBANA -- The North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) has announced that the call for proposals is now open for four grants offered by the program.

Farmers and ranchers in the 12-state North Central Region are invited to submit grant proposals to explore sustainable agriculture solutions to problems on the farm or ranch. Proposals should show how farmers and ranchers plan to use their own innovative ideas to explore sustainable agriculture options and how they will share project results.

Sustainable agriculture is good for the environment, profitable, and socially responsible. Projects should emphasize research or education/demonstration. NCR-SARE is accepting proposals for the following grants:

Research and Education Grant program: Individual grants range from $10,000 to $200,000. NCR-SARE expects to fund about seven to 10 projects. The deadline is Thursday.

Partnership Grant program: This new program is intended to foster cooperation between agriculture professionals and small groups of farmers and ranchers to catalyze on-farm research, demonstration, and education activities related to sustainable agriculture. Individual grants are limited to $30,000. For the current year funding of the Partnership Grant Program, up to $200,000 of the partnership grant pool of $340,000 in funds is available for projects focused on cover crops and soil health.

For consideration under the cover crops and soil health funding, applicants are asked to use cover crops and/or soil health in their project title and to make the topic of cover crops and/or soil health the main focus of the application. For the remaining funds of $140,000 or more, other project topics appropriate to the NCR-SARE program will be considered for funding. The deadline is Oct. 30.

Youth Educator Grant program: These grant projects provide opportunities for youth to learn more about sustainable agriculture (farming and ranching that is ecologically sound, profitable, and socially responsible). Educators use the grants to encourage young people and their parents to try sustainable practices and see sustainable agriculture as a viable career option. Projects should help youth discover that sustainable farming and ranching is profitable; good for families, communities, and their quality of life; and good for the environment long term. The maximum amount for grants is $2,000, and a total of approximately $20,000 is available for this program. The deadline is Nov. 13.

Farmer-Rancher Grant program: There are three types of competitive grants: individual grants ($7,500 maximum), partner grants for two farmers/ranchers from separate operations who are working together ($15,000 maximum), and group grants for three or more farmers/ranchers from separate operations who are working together ($22,500 maximum). NCR-SARE expects to fund about 45 projects with this call. Approximately $400,000 is available for this program. The deadline is Nov. 20.

Interested applicants can find the call for proposals online, as well as useful information for completing a proposal at

The focus of the NCR-SARE grant programs is on research and education, and these grants are all highly competitive. Funding considerations are made based on the relevance and potential of the project to increase the sustainability of agriculture in the region, as well as how well the applicant articulates the research and education components of their sustainable agriculture grant proposals.

More information is available by contacting SARE state coordinator Richard Weinzierl at 217-244-2126 or, or Mary Hosier at 217-333-7512 or


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Dawn James is a Copy Editor for the JG-TC.

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