Ohio State University Extension researchers have been awarded $2.8 million in grant funding over the last 23 years to advance sustainable agriculture in an effort to benefit Ohio farmers, farm families and citizens, according to a pair of OSU Extension educators.

Since 1988, OSU Extension faculty members, researchers, educators, graduate students and farmers have been awarded the grants from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program to fund 47 research, education and Extension projects. SARE is managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture in partnership with regional and state coordinators nationwide.

The goal of the program is to advance agricultural innovations that improve profitability, environmental stewardship and quality of life, according to USDA.

The grants have allowed Ohioans to identify projects that are relevant to them and their interests, said Mike Hogan, an OSU Extension educator and one of Ohio's SARE coordinators.

"The benefit is that it leverages dollars to evaluate sustainable production and marketing strategies for Ohio farm families," he said. "Agriculture is a large segment of our economy, so having an industry that is more viable is important."

The results of the work being done through funding of these grants have benefited Ohioans "in broad but hard-to-measure ways," said OSU Extension educator Alan Sundermeier, another Ohio SARE coordinator.

"The multiplying effect from the research is hard to quantify," he said. "It will result in improved practices or ways of broader thinking about issues and offer more creative solutions to problems. We hope that as future farm bills are funded, this program continues and that people continue to take advantage of it in the future."