The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced an investment of more than $46 million in the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which has funded farmer-driven grants and grassroots education programs resulting in climate-smart solutions for farms and ranches in every state and island protectorate since 1988.
“This investment in sustainable agriculture underscores USDA’s ongoing commitment to transforming our food and agricultural systems,” said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics (REE). “Through this investment, SARE will continue to provide competitive grants and education programs that foster farmer-driven innovation to promote climate-smart practices, make sustainable producers more profitable, and improve local economies and the quality of life in rural communities.”
These 10-year awards are being made by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in four regional SARE host institutions and the National Reporting, Coordinating, and Communications Office (NRCCO). Grant recipients are the University of Minnesota (North Central SARE Regional Host Institution); University of Vermont (Northeast SARE Regional Host Institution); University of Georgia (Southern SARE Regional Host Institution); Montana State University (Western SARE Regional Host Institution); and University of Maryland (NRCCO).
Since its authorization in the 1990 Farm Bill, SARE has supported farmers in four regions (North Central, Northeast, South, and West), with each regional program hosted by a Land-grant Institution and guided by volunteer Administrative Councils that make grants and set regional priorities. These councils include farmers and ranchers along with representatives from universities, government, agribusiness and nonprofit organizations. Technical reviewers, also volunteers, lend professional and practical experience to help councils evaluate project proposals.
“Sustainable agriculture is a high priority for NIFA across many of our programs as we seek to provide more profitable farm income, promote environmental stewardship and enhance quality of life for farm families and communities,” said Dionne Toombs, acting director of USDA NIFA. “In the last 35 years, with funding from NIFA, SARE has provided $380 million in grant funding for nearly 8,400 projects serving farmers, growers and rural communities.”
These projects cover a wide range of topics, including supporting producers with on-farm renewable energy, pest and weed management, cover crops, high tunnel and session extension, crop rotations, marketing, pollinator health and local and regional food system development.