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Grants to USA Agricultural and Livestock Producers in Multiple States for Research, Education, and Demonstration Projects

Farmer Rancher Grant Program


GrantWatch ID#

Funding Source
North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE)
Array ( )

Geographic Focus
USA: IllinoisIndianaIowaKansasMichiganMinnesotaMissouriNebraskaNorth DakotaOhioSouth DakotaWisconsin

Important Dates
Deadline: 12/07/23 4:00 PM CST Save

Grant Description
Grants to USA agricultural and livestock producers in multiple states for research, education, and demonstration projects. Eligible applicants are located in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Grants support producers who are protecting natural resources, enhancing communities, and boosting profitability.

Farmers and ranchers have critical insight when it comes to improving their systems. Whether they need to limit off-farm inputs, reduce erosion, create more time for family or community activities, learn marketing skills, or find other ways to enhance their livelihoods, farmers and ranchers can turn to the North Central Region SARE (NCR-SARE) Program for grant opportunities and information. In 1992, NCR-SARE began a competitive Farmer Rancher Grant Program exclusively to fund farmers and ranchers striving for agricultural sustainability.

NCR-SARE’s Farmer Rancher Grant Program is a competitive grants program for farmers and ranchers who want to explore sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration, and education projects.

Farmer Rancher grants have funded various topics, including pest/disease management, crop, and livestock production, food sovereignty, education/outreach, networking, quality of life issues, marketing, soil quality, energy, and more.

Proposals that involve farmers, ranchers, or youth from historically-underserved populations are encouraged. USDA defines historically-underserved audiences to include socially-disadvantaged producers, limited-resource producers, beginning farmers/ranchers, and veterans. They further define socially-disadvantaged farmers and ranchers as belonging to the following groups: American Indians or Alaskan Natives, Asians, Blacks or African Americans, Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, and women.


Additional Eligibility Criteria
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. There is no land requirement or income requirement.

Most NGOs should apply for Partnership Grants for projects working with farmers and ranchers. However, NGOs that have a farm, and a farmer who can apply for the grant can apply for Farmer Rancher Grants. The applicant must be a farmer.

Beginning farmers are eligible to apply but should demonstrate that they have the skills and knowledge to successfully farm and carry out the grant project. 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.

Funds are not for everyday farming expenses, other than those directly related to the grant project. Grant funds cannot be used to build or remodel permanent structures. The funds cannot be used for permanent structures such as a greenhouse or walipini. The only exception is for experimental fabrication. Grant funds cannot be used to buy motorized vehicles. These items may be leased or rented with grant funds, if they are needed for the project.

Pre-Proposal Conference
NCR-SARE will host a Zoom meeting about this grant program on October 4 at 4pm Central.

Register here:

Pre-Application Information
Proposals must be received online or in the NCR-SARE office by mail or e-mail by 4:00 p.m. Central Time on December 7, 2023.

• August 2023: Farmer Rancher grant call for proposals is released (this means the grant application and instructions are available)
• December 7, 2023: Farmer Rancher grant proposals are due
• Mid-February 2024: Grant applicants are notified if they are funded or not
• March 2024: Grant project budgets are reviewed and approved. Contracts are prepared for grantees to sign and return to the NCR-SARE office.
• March 15, 2024: This is the Project Start Date. Work on funded projects can begin. Any items purchased before this start date cannot be paid for with grant funds.

Grant recipients will only be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred after the initial funding date.

Grant Payments:
- First payment (50%). The NCR-SARE Administrative Council typically recommends Farmer/Rancher grants for funding in early to mid-February. Budgets are reviewed by University accountants for compliance with USDA guidelines and grant contracts are sent out. The approximate date of the first payment of grant funds is between April 1 and May 1 (depends in part on how quickly grantees return a signed contract).
- Second payment (35%). Grant recipients are eligible for a second grant payment once their progress report and budget is approved. The progress report and budget update are due at the end of the first year of the project.
- Final payment (15%). Grantees have 23 months to complete their projects. The final report is due on or before the project end date. All grant funds should be spent and the grant project should be completed by this date. Grant recipients are eligible for a final payment once their final report is approved. The final payment is a reimbursement. One-year projects can complete a final report at the end of the first year of their project.

NCR-SARE hosted a Zoom meeting about this grant program on October 4, 2023. Watch the recording:

Additional Funding Information

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants
About 40 projects are funded each year.

Estimated Size of Grant
Farmer Rancher grants are for ideas initiated by farmers and ranchers and are offered as individual grants ($15,000 maximum) or team grants for two or more farmers/ranchers who are working together ($30,000 maximum).

Term of Contract
Projects may last up to 23 months.

Contact Information
Apply Online:

If you are unable to use the online system e-mail: or mail proposals to:
NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant Program
120 Biosystems & Ag Eng Bldg, University of Minnesota
1390 Eckles Ave, St Paul MN 55108

The Farmer Rancher Grant Program has a full-time producer liaison, Joan Benjamin. Feel free to contact Joan Benjamin with any questions about this program.
Joan Benjamin
Farmer Rancher Grant Program Coordinator and Associate Regional Coordinator
Phone: 573-681-5545

North Central SARE
120 BAE, University of Minnesota
1390 Eckles Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108 612-626-3113 | 612-626-3132 (fax)

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