Featured Articles

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program receives funding 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced an investment of $46 million in the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. The SARE program has supported farmer-driven grants and grassroots education programs resulting in climate-smart solutions for farms and ranches in every state and island protectorate since 1988. 

The SARE Program is a decentralized competitive grants and education program operating in every state and island protectorate. SARE is divided into four different regions that operate as separate entities and run grant programs for their states.

“This investment in sustainable agriculture underscores USDA’s ongoing commitment to transforming our food and agricultural systems,” said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics (REE). “Through this investment, SARE will continue to provide competitive grants and education programs that foster farmer-driven innovation to promote climate-smart practices, make sustainable producers more profitable, and improve local economies and the quality of life in rural communities.”

Each of the four regional programs is hosted by a Land-grant Institution and guided by volunteer Administrative Councils that make grants and set regional priorities. These councils include farmers and ranchers along with representatives from universities, government, agribusiness, and nonprofit organizations. Technical reviewers, also volunteers, lend professional and practical experience to help councils evaluate project proposals. 

These projects cover a wide range of topics, including supporting producers with on-farm renewable energy, pest and weed management, cover crops, high tunnel and session extension, crop rotations, marketing, pollinator health, and local and regional food system development. SARE’s four regional offices administer five primary grant programs:

  1. Research and education grants

  2. Professional development grants

  3. Farmer and rancher grants

  4. Partnership/on-farm grants

  5. Graduate student grants 

“Sustainable agriculture is a high priority for NIFA across many of our programs as we seek to provide more profitable farm income, promote environmental stewardship, and enhance the quality of life for farm families and communities,” said Dionne Toombs, acting director of USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). “In the last 35 years, with funding from NIFA, SARE has provided $380 million in grant funding for nearly 8,400 projects serving farmers, growers, and rural communities.”

See the 2023 grant awardees here