Farmers and ranchers who have always wanted to try something new or innovative but did not have the money to do so now have an opportunity from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, (USDA) through the Southern SARE’s Producer Grants Program.
Friday, Nov. 13, at 5 p.m. Eastern Time is the Producer Grants deadline, said Dr. David Fernandez, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) Cooperative Extension Program livestock specialist.
The Producer Grants program allows farmers and ranchers to conduct projects to solve challenges and problems facing them and develop information on what works and what doesn’t so that farmers and ranchers with the same problems can benefit from their results, said Dr. Fernandez.
Individual farmers are eligible for up to $10,000, and organizations can receive $15,000 to complete their projects. Any producer or producers’ organization, such as a local, regional or state livestock or breed organization can apply. Projects should relate to sustainable agriculture.
The most successful projects include cooperators -- other farmers and farmer groups, Extension agents or specialists, universities or governmental entities such as departments of agriculture. Projects should have clear goals that are achievable within the proposed timeframe and proposals should clearly state how results will be shared, said Dr. Fernandez.
“Grants are not money to help you farm or pay for your farm business,” said Dr. Fernandez. “They are designed to cover the additional costs associated with trying out something new. Producers can and should bill the grant for the extra labor to conduct the trial as well as for needed supplies,” he said, “but the project scope should be limited.”
You probably do not have to seed 50 acres for results, Dr. Fernandez said. A smaller trial plot is all that may be needed. Grants cannot be used to buy equipment, livestock, fence, buildings or other permanent structures. The SARE website details how money can and cannot be spent.
Dr. Fernandez advises checking the SARE project database before applying to be sure your idea hasn’t already been funded as SARE is unlikely to fund repetitive projects. Talk to your Extension agent or specialist who can help you design a project that is more likely to be funded than if you did it on your own.
“But, remember, you are the grant writer; the agent cannot write the grant for you,” said Dr. Fernandez. Grants are judged by a panel of farmers and ranchers who decide which projects are most likely to benefit other farmers.
The main reason proposals do not get funded is that the writer did not follow the instructions. Remember, someone has to review and rank all the proposals. Reviewers are volunteers so keep them in mind when writing the proposal. If it is hard for the reviewer to find information because you didn’t follow directions, he or she will probably not put a high priority on your proposal, said Dr. Fernandez.
Southern SARE provides a link to tips on writing a successful proposal on its website (http://www.southernsare.org/Grants/Apply-for-a-Grant).
For more information on this or other livestock related issues, contact Dr. Fernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org or (870) 575-7214.