With organic fruits, vegetables and meats commanding a premium price in today’s market, it is no surprise that farmers are turning towards organic and alternative methods of farming to produce their goods.
“Organic” means grown or made without using artificial chemicals – so organic farming methods are often much better for the farmer, his customers, and his land than conventional methods. While the public loves organically grown food, becoming a full-fledged organic farming operation, or maintaining an organic operation, can be a costly process. But luckily for organic farmers, there are a number of organizations that offer financial assistance and grant funding to those who pursue these agricultural practices.

Organic Farming
Research Foundation
The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is an organization dedicated to the research of organic farming. OFRFs mission is ‘To foster the widespread adoption and improvement of organic farming systems.” They work to build infrastructure that supports the success of organic farmers and focuses on policy, grantmaking, education and community. OFRF accepts grant proposals and awards funding to organic farmers who submit proposals and applications through their website.

Research and Education
The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Grant Program is an organization that uses grants to promote what the “Three Pillars of Sustainability”: Profit over the long term; stewardship of our nation’s land, air and water; and quality of life for farmers, ranchers and their communities.
SARE grants are awarded across the United States to farmers, ranchers, students and agricultural educators who have innovative ideas that can provide important research to the field of sustainable agriculture.
“SARE is the best example of a program within the USDA that is dedicated to improving and implementing sustainable agriculture practices with projects that are grounded in farmer participation and leveraged by the resources of educators and researchers,” said Heather Friedrich, University of Arkansas Southern SARE PDP Program Assistant.
She recommends that farmers who want to apply for a SARE grant research the Call for Proposals, and also determine what relationships might be created from the project. “SARE likes partnerships and collaborations so identify who or what partnerships can make your project more successful,” Heather said.

NRCS Organic Initiative
The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has always had a clear mission: “We’re here to help people help their land,” Curt McDaniel, assistant state conservationist for the Missouri NRCS, said. The NRCS can help organic farmers with their land through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which is an umbrella program that encompasses several environmental initiatives. The goal of the NRCS with the Organic Initiative is to assist producers who are transitioning to organic certification, or to assist previously organic growers with improving their certification. The NRCS looks for opportunities to help producers to improve upon organic practices such as mulching for weed control, providing pollinator habitats and planting beneficial crops that can aid in pest control and nutrient distribution.
If you are interested in applying for an Organic Initiative grant for your farm, the best way to get started is by visiting your local USDA Service Center or field office, said McDaniel.


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