Cover photo for North Central SARE Farmer Rancher Grant

North Central SARE Farmer Rancher Grant

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

Closed December 1, 2023

Farmers and ranchers have a critical insight when it comes to improving their systems. Whether they need to limit off-farm inputs, reduce erosion, create more time for family or community activities, learn marketing skills, or find other ways to enhance their livelihoods, farmers and ranchers can turn to the North Central Region SARE (NCR-SARE) for grant opportunities and information. In 1992, NCR-SARE began a competitive Farmer Rancher Grant Program exclusively to fund farmers and ranchers striving for agricultural sustainability.

NCR-SARE’s Farmer Rancher Grant Program is a competitive grants program for farmers and ranchers who want to explore sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration, and education projects.


**Applicants must be a farmer or rancher. ** Any farmer/rancher or team or group of farmers/ranchers who farm or operate a ranch in the North Central region may apply.

**What is the definition of a farmer/rancher? ** A farmer/rancher is someone who raises crops or livestock, especially as a business. There is no land requirement or income requirement.

**Which states make up the North Central SARE Region? ** The North Central region consists of 12 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Can Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) apply for Farmer Rancher Grants? Most NGOs should apply for Partnership Grants for projects working with farmers and ranchers. See:

However, NGOs that have a farm, and a farmer who can apply for the grant can apply for Farmer Rancher Grants. The applicant must be a farmer.

Do I have to be an experienced farmer to apply? Beginning farmers are eligible to apply but should demonstrate that they have the skills and knowledge to successfully farm and carry out the grant project. Applicants may be just beginning the transition to a more sustainable operation or may already be using sustainable practices and want to implement additional changes.

Can I use the funds to start my operation? If you need startup funds check other options such as Slow Money at: or the USDA Value Added Producer Grants at: Farmer Rancher Grants cannot be used for startup funds.

Is there an age requirement to receive a gran t? No, but grants to applicants under 21 need to be signed by a parent or guardian


When do I receive grant payments if my project is funded?

  • First payment (50%). The NCR-SARE Administrative Council typically recommends Farmer/Rancher grants for funding in early to mid-February. Budgets are reviewed by University accountants for compliance with USDA guidelines and grant contracts are sent out. The approximate date of the first payment of grant funds is between April 1 and May 1 (depends in part on how quickly grantees return a signed contract).

  • Second payment (35%). Grant recipients are eligible for a second grant payment once their progress report and budget is approved. The progress report and budget update are due at the end of the first year of the project.

  • Final payment (15%). Grantees have 23 months to complete their projects. The final report is due on or before the project end date. All grant funds should be spent and the grant project should be completed by this date. Grant recipients are eligible for a final payment once their final report is approved. The final payment is a reimbursement. One-year projects can complete a final report at the end of the first year of their project.

Do I have to repay grant funds? This is not a loan; it is a grant. You do not have to pay back grant funds that you use for your grant project. If you do not complete your grant project, you will have to return unused funds.

Do I have to submit invoices or receipts to receive payments? Keep all invoices and receipts for your own records and do not submit them to NCR-SARE. NCR-SARE only needs the budget information you submit as part of your progress report and final report. You must retain receipts for project expenditures for a period of three years.

Application Instructions

All SARE grants are applied to online at



December 1, 2023

Financial Instrument


Maximum Award Amount


Updated March 26, 2024

Image Credit: SARE

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