Purpose: The Minnesota Legislature created this grant program to demonstrate and publicize the energy efficiency, environmental benefit, and profitability of sustainable agriculture techniques or systems from production through marketing. The grants must fund research or demonstrations on Minnesota farms. (MN Statute 17.116) If you have an idea of how to make farming more profitable, resource efficient, and personally satisfying, this program is for you.
Award amount: Maximum of $25,000 per grant. This year, a total of $250,000 is available.
Project Duration: 2 or 3 years (single year projects are no longer considered.)
NOTE: All successful applicants MUST attend a New Grantee Meeting during the first week of March 2017.
Minnesota farmers, educational institutions, individuals at educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations. Government entities are not eligible. Applicants must be Minnesota residents. Projects must take place on Minnesota farms. Projects led by a farmer or group of farmers receive additional points in scoring.
A farmer is someone who cultivates, operates, or manages a farm for profit, and who grows or raises at least $1,000 of agricultural products for sale annually.
Reviewers are looking for interesting ideas that may or may not work. Ideas do not have to be brand new, but should be new to Minnesota or the part of the state where they’re being proposed. For more ideas, see previously funded projects summarized.
An external review panel reads, scores, and discusses all proposals. The panel changes each year and may include farmers, soil scientists, agronomists, horticulturists, educators, marketers, economists, and other agricultural experts. The panel recommends a set of proposals to the Commissioner of Agriculture, who makes final award decisions.
See Reviewer Scoring Criteria.
If you are a farmer: you must involve at least one Technical Cooperator. She or he should have technical expertise that will strengthen the project. It might be soil science, biology, agronomy, horticulture, entomology, Extension, engineering, marketing, finance, data collection, statistics, etc. Use the Technical Cooperator to help design the project, carry it out, and/or review and interpret the results. This person is expected to serve as an advisor -- not someone you pay to do the project for you. A Technical Cooperator cannot be a family member.
Applications must include a letter of commitment from at least one Technical Cooperator. In the letter, the cooperator must explain how he or she will contribute to the project. If the budget contains funds for the cooperator, the letter must include the hourly rate that he or she will charge.
If you are not a farmer: you must have at least one Farmer Cooperator who is meaningfully involved in designing and carrying out the project. The budget should include funds to compensate the farmer for his or her involvement. The farmer is expected to be involved in project -- not simply provide land where it can be conducted.
Applications must include a letter of commitment from the farmer(s). In the letter, the farmer must explain how he or she will be involved in the project.
We strongly prefer that you use our on-line application process.
If you cannot apply online, you may request a copy of the application by contacting Julie LaClair at 651-201-6135 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Answer all questions completely within specified character or page limits. Use 12 point font, single space, within one inch page margins.
All completed applications must be received by 4:00 PM CST on Tuesday, December 13, 2016. Faxed or late proposals will not be accepted. All proposals will receive confirmation of receipt.
The MDA is happy to answer questions about the application process and ideas you might want to try. Contact Julie LaClair at 651-201-6135 or email@example.com.
Responses to all questions regarding the application process will be posted on the Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant website within one week of submission.
Applicants may request and receive copies of previously funded applications.
Maximum possible points = 100
Project Leader is a Farmer or Group of Farmers (5 points)
Potential for Environmental Benefits (5)
Potential for Economic Benefits (cost savings and/or increased income) (5)
Potential for Energy Saving (5)
Project Rationale (10)
Is there a compelling reason to do this project?
Project Design and Methods (15)
Do the design and methods match the rationale?
Are the objectives clear?
Is the plan of work reasonable?
Is there a plan for measuring and evaluating what happens (preferably for each objective)?
Does the project include a basis of comparison (for example, a control plot or treatment)
How effective is the plan to share information about the project with farmers and the broader agricultural community?
Is the budget appropriate for the project as described? (Just right, too much, too little?)
Are the itemized costs realistic? Is budget detail sufficient to justify the request?
Do consulting/purchased service charges and wages exceed 40% of the total cost?
Likelihood that Minnesota farmers will adopt the demonstrated technologies or techniques -- if they work.
Applicant Qualifications (5)
Does applicant appear to have the necessary qualifications to do this project?
Technical or Farmer Cooperator(s) (5)
Do Cooperators provide the expertise this project needs? Are they meaningfully involved?
Commitment letter(s) from Farmer or Technical Cooperator(s) included and describe expertise, role in project, and hourly rate charged (if any) Yes No
Outreach Event Planned for Final Year: Yes No
Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), 625 Robert Street N, St. Paul, MN 55155-2538, firstname.lastname@example.org