Open RFAs are listed below in order of deadline:
Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives Program (FINI): December 12, 2016
Borne out of the 2014 Farm Bill, FINI is an important competitive grant program that serves to enhance food security. Grants under this program are available to nonprofit organizations and federal agencies (i.e., community-supported agricultural programs and emergency feeding organizations) whose projects focus on enabling Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables through cash incentives. Projects will be categorized into three buckets based on size and timeframe – Pilot Projects, Multi-year Community-Based Projects, and Multi-year Large Scale Projects. 2017 priorities include providing locally and regionally produced produce to SNAP participants, creating direct connections between low-income communities and agricultural producers and targeting underserved communities (i.e., StrikeForce communities). Applications are due at 5 p.m. on December 12, 2016.
Organic Research Extension Initiative (OREI): January 19, 2017
OREI grants are a key funding opportunity for projects that advance research, extension, and education opportunities within the organic industry. A variety of organic stakeholders and their projects are eligible for OREI funding, including (but not limited to) universities, nonprofits, and private companies. Projects must include a local or regional panel component, in addition to involving farmers when performing on-farm testing to promote regional-based developments. During the application process, projects will be categorized into four areas: (1) Integrated Project Proposals; (2) Conference Proposals; (3) Research, Education and Extension Planning Proposals; and (4) Curriculum Development Proposals. The deadline for these proposals is 5 p.m. on January 19, 2017.
Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG): January 9, 2017
USDA’s agency dedicated to conservation efforts, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), recently announced the availability of $25 million for its CIG program in 2017. This program, which is a branch of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), provides an opportunity for NGOs, non-Federal government organizations, American Indian Tribes and individuals to engage in research and projects focused on conservation. NRCS’ goal is to ultimately make the technologies and practices that come out of CIG available to farmers engaging in on-farm sustainability. Each year, the program focuses on specific areas in conservation technology. This year’s foci include: conservation finance, precision conservation, data analyses to assess natural resource abundance, and water management technologies. Of the $25 million allotted to this year’s projects, $2 million will be directed towards projects specifically targeting and working to improve conditions for beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers and veteran farmers. The application deadline is January 17, 2017.
Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP): February 3, 2017
CSP is a unique program that supports farmers already invested in environmentally sound farm practices, as well as farmers looking to improve their farms’ sustainability. USDA’s NRCS carries out CSP, the largest working lands conservation program in the nation. CSP works differently from the other grants mentioned here; specifically, farmers receive both technical and financial assistance in a contrast that extends for five years. State NRCS technical advisors will help farmers develop plans for their conservation practices. These can include: addressing major regional resource concerns such as water quality, improving soil quality, increasing on-farm biodiversity and conserving water and energy. Additionally, the program offers conservation enhancements to help expand or add on to a farmer’s already existing conservation efforts. To help you navigate these enhancements, check out some of NSAC’s own resources.
Due to the obvious appeal of the resources and guidance awarded through CSP, it is a highly competitive grant program. To apply, farmers must fill out a simple form. If accepted and deemed eligible for CSP, contracts will be awarded first to those whose conservation plans (which are developed together by the farmer and NRCS field staff) best address key state-based priority resource concerns. Applications will be accepted year-round. However to be considered for a FY 2017 contract, applications should be turned in no later than February 3, 2017.
Administered by USDA’s NIFA, the ORG competitive grant program supports colleges and universities seeking to advance the organic sector. Funding for organic agriculture is extremely limited, despite the rising demand for organic products from consumers and increase in transitioning to organic agriculture from farmers. The ORG grant program seeks to fill this funding gap by supporting projects focused on research, education and extension for organic transition, with the ultimate goal of making organics more competitive in the food industry. For the FY 2017 round of applications, NIFA will make about $3.8 million available. In the RFA for ORG, NIFA describes key priority areas for FY 2017 projects, including: (1) research on the effects of organic practices on an agricultural system (i.e., cover crops, organic manure, and conservation tillage); (2) technological and methodological improvements for climate change mitigation on organic farming systems; and (3) increased understanding of the barriers to organic transition. Applications are due no later than 5 p.m. EST on March 9, 2017.
Rural Energy for America Program (REAP): Deadlines vary by grant type
In an effort to facilitate sustainable farm development by way of efficient and renewable energy, USDA created REAP, an outgrowth of the Farm Bill’s energy title, through which REAP is allotted $50 million annually. REAP’s funding approach is two-pronged, with assistance going towards: (1) grants and guaranteed loans for farms and small rural businesses aiming to improve energy efficiency and implement renewable energy; and (2) energy audit and renewable grants for service providers who work with farmers and small rural businesses.
Because the types of REAP projects are wide-ranging, USDA offers a number of deadlines for its Notice of Solicitation for Applications. For farms and small businesses requesting grants under $20,000, the first batching deadline has already passed. However, the second batching deadline will be at 4:30 p.m. (local time) on March 31, 2017. Larger grant requests are also due at 4:30 p.m. on March 31, 2017. Finally, for farms and business requesting a private loan guarantee, there is a rolling deadline, which will begin the first month that 8 applications are turned in.