Agriculture and Food and Research Initiative (AFRI) - Agricultural Economics and Rural Communities
Max award: $500,000 over five years.
Big idea: To support for research, education, and/or extension projects that address the long-term viability of small and medium-sized farms, entrepreneurship and small business development, markets and trade, and rural communities. The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative is NIFA's flagship competitive grant program and supports research in a number of program areas, including Agricultural Economics and Rural Communities.
Who can apply: Institutions of higher education and other organizations, depending on project type
Possibilities: Projects support research, education and extension that directly benefit small- and mid-size farms and rural communities, including:
- Developing farm decision making tools that increase viability and resource management;
- Analyzing the affects of changes in input costs on farm viability;
- Developing sustainable business strategies, such as growing local and regional markets.
Real example: Through the support of a $269,553 AFRI grant, professors at Michigan State University are studying hoop houses and teaching farmers to use them to extend the farming season. Hoop houses are unheated, passive solar greenhouses that can extend the growing season for vegetables in cold climates, and allow producers to grow a wider variety of plants. They are relatively inexpensive and often utilized by small farmers, especially in northern climates.