The 2018 Farm Bill directs NIFA to establish a new competitive grant program to support research, education, and extension activities for facilitating the development of urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production, harvesting, transportation, aggregation, packaging, distribution, and markets. The Farm Bill provided $10 million in mandatory funding for the first year and authorized up to $10 million in discretionary funding annually for 2019 through 2023. NIFA plans to collect stakeholder input on program priorities. The request will be posted in the Federal Register, soliciting input on the most urgent research, education and extension needs in support of this Farm Bill Initiative.
NIFA invests in urban and indoor agriculture research, extension, and education through multiple authorities and funded programs. These include formula (Hatch and Smith-Lever) and competitive programs. Links to these programs are provided below. If you are providing stakeholder input to this new initiative please consider what NIFA currently supports when providing comment on most urgent unmet research, education and extension needs.
Federal Register Notice
Solicitation of Stakeholder Input for Urban, Indoor, and Other Emerging Agricultural Production Research, Education, and Extension Initiative
Examples of current NIFA competitive programs that support urban agriculture:
Beginning Farmers and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP)
BFRDP is a competitive grant program that funds projects that provide education, mentoring, and technical assistance to people entering farming and those in the first 10 years of managing a farming operation (beginning farmers, or BFRs), where “farming” includes farming, ranching, and nonindustrial private forestry.
Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education (SARE)
The SARE program provides technical assistance as well as regional grant funding for research and education projects in sustainable agriculture, including urban agriculture.
Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)
SCRI program works to solve the needs of the various specialty crop industries through the promotion of collaboration, open communication, exchange of information, and development of resources that accelerate the application of scientific discovery and technology. SCRI supports the integration of research and extension activities that use systems-based, trans-disciplinary approaches within five focus areas.
- AFRI-Foundational Knowledge of Agricultural Production Systems (A1102): The program was launched in 2016 and supports integrated research/education/extension projects and conference projects in all production systems, including Urban Agriculture. Awards range from $50,000 to $500,000.
- AFRI-Foundational Knowledge of Agricultural Systems and Technology (A1521): The program supports integrated research/education/extension projects and conference projects in Engineering for Agricultural Production Systems. Applications must have a significant engineering component. Awards range from $50,000 to $500,000.
- AFRI-AERC Small and Medium-Sized Farms (A1601): The Agricultural Economics and Rural Communities program area of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI-AERC) program on Small and Medium-Sized Farms (A1601) funds integrated research/education/extension projects that benefit small and medium-sized farms and ranches.
Supports the development of projects with a one-time infusion of federal dollars to make such projects self-sustaining. CFPs should be designed to create community-based food projects with objectives, activities, and outcomes that are in alignment with CFPCGP primary goals.
Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)
The purpose of this program is to fund projects that will enhance the ability of producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards to grow and market high quality organic agricultural products. Priority concerns include biological, physical, and social sciences, including economics.
Other USDA Urban and Community Agriculture Programs:
NIFA is also part of USDA’s Urban and Community Agriculture Working Group, which consists of 14 USDA agencies and various offices within the Office of the Secretary. The working group supports efforts that study, support and strengthen local and regional food systems, and urban and community agricultural systems.
USDA has an Urban Agriculture Tool Kit that lays out potential operational elements for urban farmers, and identifies technical, financial, and Federal resources and programs that can support a variety of activities related to urban farming.
There is an Urban Agriculture Grants and Engagement Opportunities page listing deadlines to apply for funding from grant programs.