McPHERSON, KS – The North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) Program recently announced the projects recommended for funding for the Farmer Rancher and Youth Educator competitive grant programs. More than 50 grant projects were selected to receive a total of more than $500,000 through these two NCR-SARE grant programs, which offer competitive grants for farmers, ranchers, youth educators, organizations, and others who are exploring sustainable agriculture in America’s Midwest.

For the 2014 Farmer Rancher Grant Program, NCR-SARE awarded more than $486,000 to more than 40 projects ranging from $1,370 to $22,500. The 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.

The following are Kansas farmers who were awarded grants for their projects:

  • Mark Lumpe of Wakarusa Valley Farm in Lawrence, Kansas was selected to receive 11320 for the project, “Growing Mushrooms on Local Agricultural Byproducts.” This project is a collaboration between three farms in Northeast Kansas to develop a system for collecting agricultural byproducts from local farms for use as a growing medium for mushrooms.
  • Josh Roe of B&H Ranch in Manhattan, Kansas was selected to receive $7,223 for the project, “Economics of Grazing and Haying Cover Crops in North Central Kansas.” Cover crops will be planted after wheat harvest in North Central Kansas and 1/3 of the acreage of each will be untouched, hayed, and grazed, respectively. Soil and forage tests along with rate of gain will be utilized to provide economic analysis on what method(s) is sustainable.
  • Chris Sramek of Sramek Family Farm, LLC in Atwood, Kansas was selected to receive $22,500 for the project, “Feasibility, planning and purchase of Mobile Processing Unit (MPU) for Scaling up Free Range Poultry Meat Processing for High Volume Retail Market.” A group of High Plains poultry producers will complete feasibility, planning, implementation, purchase, and fabrication of a mobile processing unit to slaughter and process range pasture raised poultry for direct consumer sales in rural Kansas, rural Colorado, and a large growing urban market in Denver, CO.

“We are proud to have three funded proposals from Kansas in the 2014 North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Farmer Rancher Grant Program,” says Kerri Ebert, Kansas SARE coordinator. “The SARE Farmer Rancher Grant is unique because it allows farmers to apply for money to conduct their own on-farm experiments to find sustainable solutions to problems that directly affect their farm or farms in their area. Just as Kansas agriculture is diverse, so the projects that received SARE funding this year reflect the ever-expanding depth and breadth of agricultural production in Kansas; from alternative crop production (mushrooms in this case) to mobile meat processing.”

NCR-SARE administers these grant programs in the North Central region, and each has specific priorities, audiences, and timelines. The focus for the NCR-SARE grant programs is on research and education. Funding considerations are made based on how well the applicant articulates the nature of the research and education components of their sustainable agriculture grant proposals.

NCR-SARE’s Administrative Council (AC) members decide which projects will receive SARE funds. A collection of farm and non-farm citizens, the AC includes a diverse mix of agricultural stakeholders in the region. Council members hail from regional farms and ranches, the Cooperative Extension Service, universities, federal agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Kansas Farmers Union member Donn Teske, Wheaton, KS currently serves on the AC committee.

Since 1988, the SARE program has helped advance farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound, and good for communities through a nationwide research and education grants program. The program, part of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, funds projects and conducts outreach designed to improve agricultural systems.