NCR-SARE: Farmer Rancher Grant Program

North Central Region SARE

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Grant amount: Up to US $27,000

Deadline: Dec 5, 2019 2:00pm PST

Applicant type: Working Professional

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Research

Location of project: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan Show all

Location of residency: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan Show all

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These grants are for farmers/ranchers to explore innovative sustainable agriculture solutions to production, marketing, labor, and other problems. Sustainable agriculture practices are tested through onfarm research, education, or demonstration projects and results are shared with other farmers/ranchers.


NCR-SARE allocated about $720,000 for the 2020 Farmer Rancher Grant Program. Projects must be completed in 23 months. Farmer Rancher Grants provide opportunities for farmers/ranchers to use Sustainable Agriculture practices and their own innovative ideas to solve problems on the farm or ranch, and to share their ideas with others. There are three types of competitive grants:

  • Individual grants ($9,000 maximum)
  • Team of Two grants for two farmers/ranchers from separate and distinct operations who are working together ($18,000 maximum)
  • Group grants for three or more farmers/ranchers from separate and distinct operations who are working together ($27,000 maximum). 

Sustainable Agriculture is farming and ranching that is ecologically sound, profitable, and socially responsible. Sustainable Agriculture practices may include but are not limited to:

  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
  • Rotational Grazing (including Management-intensive & Mob Grazing)
  • Soil Erosion Control
  • Soil Quality Improvement
  • Water Quality Improvement/Wetlands
  • Cover Crops
  • Crop/Landscape Diversity
  • Nutrient Management
  • Agroforestry
  • Value-Added and Direct Marketing 
  • Wildlife Preservation
  • Beneficial Insects
  • Poultry and Small-Scale Livestock Production
  • Holistic/Systems Approaches to Farming & Ranching
  • Organic Agriculture
  • Proactive Weed Control (For example: Interseeded cover crops, use of crop rotation, planting row crops in warm soil)

Since the start of the Farmer Rancher Grant Program in 1992, over 1,200 grants have been awarded on topics such as alternative grain crops as animal feed, alternative uses for CRP land, biological weed & pest management, educating/mentoring the next generation of farmers/ranchers, energy alternatives & conservation, health and safety of employees, holistic management, labor issues, livestock & crop production systems, marketing, organic farming, quality of life issues, rotational grazing, soil conservation, waste management, water quality, water conservation, and more.

Farmer/Rancher Grants are for innovative sustainable agriculture research or demonstration /education projects; they are NOT for everyday farming expenses, other than those directly related to the grant project. For example, purchasing fencing or livestock to expand your herd would not be allowed. Fencing or livestock needed as part of a research project to explore how different cover crops work in rotational grazing would be allowed, but only for the land and animals involved in the research.

  • Projects that involve whole farm systems and/or a youth component are encouraged.
  • Projects involving industrial hemp must comply with applicable state and USDA regulations.
  • Livestock projects need to comply with reasonable animal care requirements to insure that animals are properly cared for.

Grant Amounts

Farmer Rancher grants are offered as individual ($9,000 maximum), team of two ($18,000 maximum), or group ($27,000 maximum) grants for ideas initiated by farmers and ranchers.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


    • Any farmer/rancher or team or group of farmers/ranchers who farm or operate a ranch in the North Central region may apply.
      • A farmer/rancher is someone who raises crops or livestock, especially as a business.
      • NonGovernment Organizations (NGOs) should apply for Partnership Grants for projects working with farmers and ranchers.
      • The North Central region consists of 12 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
      • Applicants may be just beginning the transition to a more sustainable operation or may already be using sustainable practices and want to implement  additional changes. (Grants to applicants under 21 need to be signed by a parent or guardian.)
    • For Team of Two projects, there must be two farmer/ rancher participants from separate and distinct operations.
      • For Group projects, there must be at least three farmer/rancher participants from separate and distinct operations.
      • If your situation is unique, please explain or contact NCR-SARE to discuss your options.
      • Teams and Groups must designate a farmer/rancher project coordinator who will submit and sign the proposal, be responsible for reporting, and assume tax liability associated with the grant, if there is any. Talk with a tax consultant if you have questions.
    • Grant recipients may participate in one Individual grant and one Team or Group grant annually.
      • Previous farmer/rancher grant recipients are eligible to apply if reports from previous grant projects are up to date.
      • Proposals from previous grant recipients will be evaluated on a competitive basis with all other proposals.
  • Projects may last up to 24 months


  • Grant funds are not for day-to-day farming expenses or business start-up.

    Grant funds cannot be used for construction and remodeling of buildings, or to buy motorized vehicles, but these items may be leased or rented with grant funds, if they are needed for the project.