Fall 2017 Request for Proposals

OFRF Request for Proposals (RFP) for 2018 Grant Funding

Proposal Information for Research and Projects

Applicant Eligibility and Proposal Deadline

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) grants program is open to all applicants residing and conducting research in Canada, Mexico and the United States. OFRF does not fund projects outside of these countries.

OFRF invites proposals from all applicants. OFRF particularly encourages farmers, ranchers, graduate students and early career researchers, veterans and Extension personnel to consider applying for funding. Farmers and ranchers often find that working with a professional researcher helps to design and carry out a research project, and OFRF encourages applications from such partnerships.

The deadline for proposals is December 15, 2017. OFRF will notify applicants about funding decisions in spring 2018.

Overview of the Research Grants Program

OFRF offers funding for research on organic farming and food systems and the dissemination of these research results to organic farmers and the greater agricultural and research communities. Proposals must involve farmers or ranchers in project design and implementation and must take place on certified organic land, ideally on working organic farms or ranches. Applicants should articulate how the proposed research project will foster the improvement or adoption of organic farming systems, as well as ways in which organic farmers or ranchers can utilize proposed results in their operations. OFRF encourages grants that address the resiliency of organic systems to challenges like climate change and/or have economic and social considerations to compliment on-farm research. Research projects must include strong education and outreach components and contain measurable outcomes, yet projects that are purely outreach will not be considered. Projects should include expected impacts due to the results or outcomes of the projects.

Project proposals are reviewed and awarded by the OFRF Board of Directors, most of whom are certified organic producers.

OFRF research grants are intended to fund agricultural research in certified organic settings. OFRF does not provide funding to start or expand a commercial enterprise.

Topics

This request for proposals is open to any agricultural production, social, economic, or policy-related topic of concern to organic farmers and/or ranchers. OFRF supports research that is relevant to and takes place in certified organic systems. OFRF does not normally fund studies that compare conventional with organic systems as a primary objective.

Priority Areas

Based on the OFRF report, 2016 National Organic Research Agenda, this year’s priority areas for research projects are listed below. We encourage applicants to refer to the 2016 National Organic Research Agenda for more information on research priority areas that have been identified.

1. Soil health. Topics of particular interest include nutrient balancing , crop rotations, and fertility management focused on reducing environmental impacts.

2. Innovative weed control.  Topics of particular interest include weed control related to climate change and changing weather patterns.

3. Management of emerging insect and disease issues.

4. Livestock health. Topics of particular interest include livestock and crop integration and best practces for grass based livestock production.

Funding

OFRF requests proposals with objectives that are realistically achievable with a modest level of funding. OFRF will fund projects for up to $20,000 for one year.

OFRF acknowledges the importance of conducting long-term research to verify experimental results. OFRF cannot guarantee funding for any project beyond a single year. Submission of a new proposal is required for OFRF to consider continued funding in subsequent.

Organic Certification of Research Sites

OFRF requires that research be conducted on land certified to the National Organic Program standards. Applicants are required to provide information on organic certification status, identify the certifier, and state length of time under organic certification for all study sites. If the only available research ground is in transitional status, provide the expected date of certification and the prospective certifier.

PROPOSAL REQUIREMENTS

In order to fairly evaluate each grant proposal, OFRF must enforce the following policies:

  • OFRF accepts electronic proposal submissions only. To apply, fill out the online application form at ofrf.org.
  • The primary audience for your proposal for review is a subcommittee of the OFRF Board of Directors with a wide range of expertise. Outside reviewers are included in this process if additional expertise is required on a particular topic or subject area. Numerous proposals are reviewed each year; proposals that are concise and to the point are appreciated.
  • You will be asked to upload your proposal to the online application form. Limit the body of the proposal to no more than nine pages. The page limit is rigorously enforced to ensure fairness. Proposals that surpass the page limit or otherwise do not meet these requirements will not be considered for funding
  • Appendices (in addition to the 9-page maximum) may be used only for literature citations, bibliographic references, letters of support, and resumes or curricula vitae (CVs) of primary investigators. Resumes and CVs are limited to no longer than two pages each.
  • OFRF requires that 12-point font be used for all text in the proposal.
  • Begin your proposal with a ½-page abstract of the project and then address in order each of the 10 points outlined below under Proposal Content Requirements.
  • The successful application will provide a clear rationale for the project and demonstrate that there is a significant need for the proposed research. It is important that the objectives for your project be clear, well-structured, and succinct. Demonstrate why your project is necessary, present measurable outcomes, and explain what, specifically, you hope to accomplish and actual and proposed impacts. Farmers are OFRF’s primary constituency; your proposal must address a need (or needs) of farmers, and present outcomes that are useful and accessible to farmers.

General Budget Information

OFRF funds can only be used for expenses directly relating to your research project. General overhead and operational costs may not be included in your budget proposal.

OFRF generally will provide funding for:

  • Labor and other expenses for recording, analyzing, documenting, and disseminating results
  • Rental of equipment necessary to the project
  • Stipends for farmer/rancher cooperators
  • Mileage for field travel (reimbursed at a rate no greater than the U.S. General Services     Administration's rate on the date of application, currently $0.56 per mile).

Ordinarily, OFRF will not provide funding for:

  • Faculty salaries
  • Student tuition
  • Farm labor not related to research activities
  • Other farm expenses not related to the proposed research activities
  • Permanent equipment
  • International travel
  • Travel to professional meetings or publication in scientific journals

PROPOSAL CONTENT REQUIREMENTS

Fill out the online application form and include the name, phone number, address, and electronic contact information for all researchers and farmer/rancher collaborators involved in the project. Identify the primary investigator for the project and the project title. You should also include the name for your administrative contact if that is known.

 You will upload as either a single MS Word document or PDF the following items in the application checklist (not to exceed 9 pages total).

1. Abstract/summary of the project including synopsis of methods, goals, and expected outcomes.

2. Qualifications. What are your qualifications to do this work? What previous experience do you have in conducting organic systems research or education?  Include the qualifications of any researchers or producers with whom you are collaborating. Please provide a 1- or 2-page CV or resume for major participants only (include in the appendix)

3. Rationale and literature review. What issue does the project address and why is it important? What steps have you taken to determine that the project you're planning has not already been done? What organic farmers and/or ranchers have you consulted on the topic? OFRF requires that you conduct a literature search on the subject matter and present your findings in the proposal. We encourage you to include letters of support from relevant stakeholders and organic farmer participants.

4. Research Objectives. What are the specific objectives of this project? For each objective, present a measurable outcome that will indicate successful achievement of the objective. Describe how the project will foster the improvement and/or widespread adoption of organic farming systems, as well as ways in which organic farmers or ranchers can utilize proposed results in their operation

5. Farmer involvement. What is the issue that you are addressing and why is it important to organic producers? Detail how farmers or ranchers have been involved in determining the focus of the project and in its planning. How will they be involved throughout the project?

6. Methods. What is your methodology for this project? Include details of the actual mechanics of your project, including experimental design, treatments, materials, measurements, etc. How have farmer/rancher collaborators been involved in developing the methodology of the experiment? How will they be involved in the experiment's implementation?

7. Organic certification. Describe the organic certification status of the research area, length of time under organic certification, and provide the certifier’s name. If the only available research ground is in transitional status, provide the date when it is expected to come under certification and the prospective certifier.

8. Research outcomes and impacts. What are the expected outcomes and impacts on organic farming, agricultural systems and rural communities? How will these outcomes be measured and what is the evaluation plan?

9. Research outreach and results dissemination. What is your outreach plan for delivering the information from the project to farmers/ranchers or other end users? Each project must have a strong outreach plan to disseminate the findings, and may include a combination of delivery methods such as field days, articles, publications, videos, images and reader-friendly synopsis of the project’s results.

10. Timeline. Provide a timeline or calendar of important milestones. If submitting a proposal for a multi-year project, please provide a year-by-year breakdown of the project timeline.

11. Budget and budget justification. What is your project budget? Your budget should detail labor, materials, travel, and outreach costs, with justification for each. Include fair compensation for farmer collaborators. This can be formatted as a table followed by a justification paragraph.

12. Current and Pending funding. Document other sources of support for the project, all matching and in-kind resources, and list other funding sought in the attached Current and Pending Form.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

  1. OFRF reserves the right to not accept a proposal into competition if it deems that the proposal is not competitive because of certification status or inadequate methodology; or if proposal does not address organic farming issues or does not follow these proposal requirements.
  1. 12-point font must be used for all text in the proposal.
  1. Number the pages of your proposal and limit it to 9 pages (Exclusing letters of support, CVs, references, and Current and Pending Funding Form).
  1. Submit your proposal online via the online application at ofrf.org.  All elements of a proposal must be included in a single document. Please call or e-mail if you need to make arrangements to submit via other types of electronic or mail delivery.

Proposals must be received in the OFRF office by midnight on the deadline. The upcoming deadline is December 15, 2017.

Proposals submitted electronically or otherwise delivered after 11:59 PM Pacific Time December 15, 2017 will not be considered for funding.

REVIEW

Proposals will be reviewed by the members of the Board of Directors of the foundation. OFRF reserves the right to seek outside technical consultation as necessary.

The following criteria will be used to evaluate research proposals:

  1. Presents clear objectives demonstrating that the project will foster the improvement and/or widespread adoption of organic farming practices, and specifies measurable outcomes that will indicate successful achievement of the objectives.
  1. Addresses a high priority organic farming issue, including production, social, or economic problems, and takes a systems rather than an input-substitution approach to solving production problems.
  1. Demonstrates meaningful farmer involvement in identifying the problem addressed by the project and in carrying out the project; provides compensation for farmer participation as appropriate.
  1. Is designed with clear goals and objectives to provide information, tools, and/or methods that will be relevant, useful, and accessible to farmers.
  1. Documents uniqueness of project with a thorough literature review.
  1. Uses a scientifically sound methodology appropriate to meeting project objectives.
  1. Presents a strong education and outreach plan describing how the results will be disseminated to the farming community and potential impacts.
  1. Proposal is well-written and clear; follows the requirements in the Request for Proposals including page limits and font size; demonstrates the conceptual adequacy of the project, and presents a realistic timeline for each of the project's activities.
  1. Describes the qualifications and skills of the applicants and all cooperators demonstrating that they are qualified to ensure the success of the project. Additional consideration will be given to farmer researcher teams, graduate students, and applicants performing research in underserved geographic locations.
  1. Presents a well-justified and detailed budget appropriate to carrying out the project's objectives, showing any matching funds applied for or already secured. Additional consideration will be given for projects that do not have existing funding and for which the OFRF grant would have a significant impact.  

IF YOUR PROJECT IS FUNDED

OFRF requires that successful applicants sign a grant contract before initial payment of the grant award. OFRF will retain 10 percent of the total grant award until completion of the project, timely submission of a final report by the grantee, and a satisfactory evaluation of the project by OFRF. Evaluation involves analyzing whether or not the original project objectives were met, not the success or failure of a project. Annual reports on the anniversary of the project start date and a final report is required within 3 months of final research date to provide time to collect and analyze data.

Suggested references:

OFRF's previously-funded projects. This will give the applicant a sense of the type of projects the Board has an interest in funding and help avoid duplicating previously funded work.

OFRF's Guide to Conducting On-farm Research, which may be useful in determining project objectives and experimental design.

OFRF's Guide to Conducting a Literature Review

OFRF’s 2016 National Organic Research Agenda.  

If you have additional questions, you may contact the OFRF Research Grants Division by phone at 831.426.6606 or e-mail grants@ofrf.org.