Farmers, ranchers, and agricultural professionals are eligible for funding from the USDA's Western Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Grant recipients are eligible for up to $15,000 as individuals and for $30,000 for groups of three or more working together on a project, according to Western SARE representatives at the University of California Davis.

"Funding can be requested for research into production practices, business development, and marketing alternatives," said David Chaney, education coordinator for the University of California's SARE program and the Western Region SARE representative. "We want to alert growers and ranchers in the West that Dec. 6 is the deadline for these very useful grants."

Dec. 6 is also the deadline for "Professional + Producer" grant proposals. Under the grants, agricultural professionals such as UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) educators or Natural Resources Conservation Service employees coordinate the projects with farmers or ranchers serving an advisory role. The same funding levels apply depending on the number of producers involved.

Recent “Professional + Producer” grant recipients in California include Morgan Doran, livestock and natural resources advisor for UCCE in Solano County for a program called, "Using molasses as an attractant for concentrating grazing on medusahead." Jeff Mitchell, a UC Davis vegetable crops specialist based at the UC Kearney Agricultural Center near Parlier, received the grant for the program, "Conservation tillage forage production in California's San Joaquin Valley".

Calls for proposals are available on the Internet at http://wsare.usu.edu or by calling the Western SARE office at Utah State University at (435) 797-2257.

USDA's SARE program helps advance farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and benefit communities through a national research and education grants program. The program, part of USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, funds projects and conducts outreach designed to improve agricultural systems.