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Fostering Sustainable Agriculture through Research, Education and Policy since 1984

Spotlight on Agricultural Funding Opportunities – July

USDA Grant Writing Webinar – Transmitted May 11, 2016 (Recording coming soon)

USDA specialists held a Grant Writing Workshop on May 11, 2016, that covered important things to know when applying for a grant.  Topics for this webinar included:

  • Grant Writing Tips for Success – 10 Things You Must Do
  • Look Before You Leap
  • Don’t Take Anything for Granted

The archive of the webinar will be available soon and can be accessed at the URL below:

http://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/outreach-and-education/webinars/index

 

“Farmers’ Guide” Helps Organic Producers Apply for USDA Buffer Initiative – Rolling Applications

Washington, DC, May 13, 2016 – Today, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) announced the publication of their Organic Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Reserve Program Field Border Buffer Initiative. The guide is intended to assist organic farmers interested in accessing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new Organic Buffer Initiative, and is one of many free resources produced by NSAC for farmers and farm groups.

“Organic farming already provides many environmental benefits, including improved soil health and water quality,” said Greg Fogel, Senior Policy Specialist with NSAC. “The Organic Buffer Initiative is a great new tool that will help organic farmers looking to take their conservation efforts to the next level, and we hope that our farmers’ guide will help them seamlessly access and utilize the program.”

NSAC’s guide includes eligibility and application information, program basics, detailed descriptions of key conservation practices and associated payments, as well as two producer profiles and resources for additional information.

The buffer initiative, which is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) as part of the Conservation Reserve Program’s (CRP) Continuous Sign-up (CCRP), aims to establish up to 20,000 acres of new conservation buffers. Conservation buffers can come in many varieties, but are generally described as a small areas or strips of land in permanent vegetation that are designed to slow runoff, provide shelter for wildlife, and prevent erosion along riverbank areas.

Through the Organic Buffer Initiative FSA provides farmers with rental payments, cost-share payments, and in many cases incentive payments for land that is set-aside for conservation buffers for a period of 10-15 years. The initiative helps organic producers limit the impacts of pesticide drift, enhance their conservation systems, and meet National Organic Program (NOP) certification requirements for natural resource and biodiversity conservation.

Unlike the general sign-ups that occur under other CRP programs, CCRP producers may enroll at any time throughout the year. The program also has no bidding and ranking system, and the land is enrolled automatically if it meets the eligibility criteria.

CCRP eligible practices include: riparian buffers, wildlife habitat buffers, wetland buffers, filter strips, wetland restoration, grass waterways, shelterbelts, windbreaks, living snow fences, contour grass strips, salt tolerant vegetation, and shallow water areas for wildlife.

Under the new organic initiative, farmers are free to use whichever CCRP eligible practice or suite of practices that best suits their particular needs. However, in most cases, we believe farmers will be most interested in the following practices:

  • If a field borders a stream, either the filter strip or the riparian buffer practice will be best suited to that particular border.
  • If a farm is located in an area where trees are well suited and high winds a consideration, the windbreak option may be suitable.

In most other instances, the two practices that are likely to be adaptable as field borders are the pollinator habitat practice or the upland buffers practice.

Click here to download the full guide.

 

MN EQIP Sign-up ends August 19th

Agricultural producers looking to solve natural resource problems on their farms will want to plan ahead and sign-up early for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding.  Cathee Pullman, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist in Minnesota, announced that farmers interested in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) need to apply by August 19, 2016, for funding in 2017.

EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers. These contracts provide financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air, and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland.

EQIP is just one tool for landowners who want to apply conservation practices on the ground,” said Pullman. “By working with the local NRCS offices, you can apply for NRCS programs which work best for your land.”

Applications for EQIP are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes application acceptance or submission deadline dates for evaluation and ranking of eligible applications.  Contracts will be awarded to producers’ with the highest rankings until funds are exhausted.

To learn more about EQIP, contact your local NRCS field office or visit the MN NRCS website.

 

Biomass-to-Energy Projects for select counties in OH, PA, NY

Biomass removal proposals due August 4th, 2016

From the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition blog. If you click on the link, it indicates just a few geographic areas are covered by this at the farm level.  Ohio is included.

$3 Million Available for Biomass-to-Energy Projects

Through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), farmers can receive funding to offset some of the costs of establishing and producing crops like switch grass and willow for bioenergy production. On May 23, 2016, USDA announced that BCAP funding has resumed for farmers and foresters growing and harvesting biomass for renewable energy and bio-based products. For fiscal year (FY) 2016, $3 million is available through the program.

 

Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant – due August 5th

The USDA is providing grants to local cooperatives and other organizations that provide technical assistance to socially disadvantaged groups in rural areas. Examples of technical assistance include providing leadership training, conducting feasibility studies, and developing business and strategic plans.

Recipients eligible for these grants include groups of cooperatives, individual cooperatives, and cooperative development centers that serve socially-disadvantaged groups. The cooperatives or development centers can be based in any area, but the groups that receive technical assistance must be located in an eligible rural area. USDA is encouraging applications for projects in census tracts with poverty rates of 20 percent or higher.

USDA is making $3 million in grants available. The maximum award a recipient may receive is $175,000.

Applications must be submitted by August 5, 2016, or electronically by August 1, 2016.

 

MN EQIP Sign-up by August 19th

Agricultural producers looking to solve natural resource problems on their farms will want to plan ahead and sign-up early for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding.  Farmers interested in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) need to apply by August 19, 2016, for funding in 2017.

EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers. These contracts provide financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air, and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland.

To learn more about EQIP, contact your local NRCS field office or visit the MN NRCS website.

 

MN AGRI Farm to School Grant Program – Due Nov. 2nd, 2016

The MN Dept of Agriculture is requesting proposals for its 2017 AGRI Farm to School Grant Program.  They anticipate awarding up to $500K in competitive grants to increase sales of locally grown and raised foods to K-12 institutions and child care providers.

There are two categories of grants:

– Grants to purchase equipment and/or physical improvements that will allow schools to purchase, prepare, and serve more locally grown and raised food.  Grants would cover 50% of the total project cost up to a maximum of $50K.  Recipients must contribute the remaining 50% of the total project cost in cash.

– Grants to create plans that identify specific equipment, tools, training or policies that school or district needs in order to purchase more locally grown or raised food. Grants cover up to 75% of the total project cost up to a maximum of $30K. Recipients must contribute the remaining 25% of the total project costs in cash.

The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) is providing up to $125K to help schools and child care providers meet the requirements for matching funds.

Applications are due Nov. 2 by 4 pm and may be submitted online.

For more information: www.mda.state.mn.us/grants/grants/mnfarmtoschool.aspx

For information on using the Blue Cross contributions as part of one’s proposal, contact Ashley Bress at 651-201-6500.

 

Organic Crop Improvement Association Research & Education Micro Grants – Due Nov. 15th, 2016

Organic Crop Improvement Association Research & Education Micro Grants
The Organic Crop Improvement Association Research & Education is calling for micro grant proposals up to $1,500. Projects must pertain to organic research and/or education and be of benefit to OCIA-certified members.
Proposals are reviewed each March 15 and November 15, but may be submitted year-round.

 

WI Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grants – Due Sept. 1

WI DATCP is now releasing the Request for Proposals (RFP) for fiscal year 2017 funding for the Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grants.

Proposals will be available starting July 1st 2016 and will be due September 1st 2016 at 11:59 PM.

To view the Request for Proposals and application materials, please visit our webpage.

About the program

DATCP awards grants for voluntary, producer-led activities to reduce non point source pollution on a watershed scale. The maximum grant award per group will be $20,000 each fiscal year.

To learn more about past funded projects, please visit our webpage for our E-news updates that profile various producer-led projects happening throughout the state.

Please direct any questions to Rachel Rushmann at 608-224-4622 or by email: Rachel.Rushmann@wi.gov

 

Outreach and technical assistance programs for under-served and socially disadvantaged farmers

Due July 29

From the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC):

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of nearly $10 Million to support dedicated outreach and technical assistance programs to reach under-served and socially disadvantaged farmers to increase their participation in federal loan, conservation, and rural development programs.

The 2016 Funding Cycle

Grant proposals for this year’s funding cycle are due July 29, which gives organizations a much shorter application window than previous years.

Priority Areas

The fiscal year (FY) 2016 FOA has five priority areas, and all project proposals must address at least two of them:

  • Assist socially disadvantaged or veteran farmers and ranchers in owning and operating successful farms and ranches;
  • Improve participation among socially disadvantaged or veteran farmers and ranchers in USDA programs;
  • Build relationships between current and prospective socially disadvantaged or veteran farmers and ranchers and USDA’s local, state, regional and National offices;
  • Introduce agriculture-related information to socially disadvantaged or veteran farmers and ranchers through innovative outreach and technical assistance techniques; and
  • Introduce agricultural education targeting socially disadvantaged youth and beginning farmers and farmworkers, including but not limited to StrikeForce and Promise Zone areas.

The priority on youth projects in targeted zones has been designated by USDA as high-priority, and is a new focus of the program this year.

Grant projects cannot exceed $200,000 and must be limited to one year. Applicants can, however, propose a multi-year initiative, but it will only be funded for one year at a time and must re-compete for future funding in subsequent funding cycles.

Organizations may only submit one proposal for funding. No match is required.

Non-profit and community-based organizations are eligible and encouraged to apply for funding from this program.

The Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for the program can be found in the Federal Register.

 

Minnesota Land Easement Funding – Due October 1

Cathee Pullman, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist in Minnesota, announces that farmers interested in Easement Funding need to apply for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) by October 1, 2016.

Click on the “Easement” link above if you are interested in learning more about “easements” to protect water and agricultural land from non-ag uses. When you scroll down there is diagram showing the step-by-step process regarding easements.

To enroll land in Agricultural Land Easements or Wetland Reserve Easements, entities and/or landowners may apply at any time at their local USDA Service Center.

Learn more about the Agriculture Easement Program (ACEP) here.

For further information about  the  News Release, read here.