COLUMBUS, Ohio - Farmers seeking to produce new crops, market agricultural projects or develop environmentally friendly, viable production systems are invited to apply for a grant that will afford them the opportunity to tackle such endeavors.
The United States Department of Agriculture will make available $400,000 in grants for its Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program for the North Central Region. Producers in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin are eligible to apply.
Applications will be available beginning Feb. 1. Individual producers can apply for grants up to $6,000 and up to $18,000 is available for groups of three or more.
"The program basically has two objectives: to give agricultural professionals the opportunity to develop programs in sustainable agriculture, and educate farmers and landowners on producing, marketing or managing agricultural systems," said Mike Hogan, an Ohio State University Extension agent. "The program then allows producers to share that information with others in the industry."
Projects awarded for funding in the past in Ohio include extending the fall and winter grazing period using turnips, grazing corn and rye; building a high value market for whole lamb; vermicomposting; direct marketing of culinary herbs; and low-input, energy efficient greenhouse construction workshops.
"We've put forth a concerted effort to help promote the program and identify folks around the state who would be interested in applying," said Hogan. "Ohio has done well over the past couple of years in getting funding for various projects. Last year, the state had the most number of projects submitted and the most number of projects funded throughout the 12-state region."
In 2000, nearly $30,000 was awarded to Ohio producers and natural resource professionals for a variety of agricultural and forestry projects. Regionally, more than 380 producer projects have been awarded at a total of more than $2 million since 1992. The national SARE Program began with the 1985 Farm Bill, with Congress appropriating initial funds in 1988.
SARE grant applications are due March 29. Funding decisions will be made in late June, with funds being available in the fall. For more information, contact your local Ohio State Extension office or log on to http://www.sare.org/ncrsare.