Request for Research Proposals

photo of researcher in the fieldOFRF is pleased to announce that funding is available to fund research projects on any agricultural production, social, economic, or policy-related topic of concern to organic farmers or ranchers.

Organic Farming Research Foundation Request for Proposals (RFP) for 2014

Applicant Eligibility and Proposal Deadlines

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) grants program is open to all applicants residing 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, researchers, 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 Thursday, May 15, 2014, for the 2014 funding cycle. OFRF will make funding decisions in November 2014 and applicants will be notified of these by December 31, 2014.

Note:  Our annual grant cycle has changed.  We are now only accepting proposals in the spring for one cycle of awards per year.  The next application deadline will be in 2015 and a RFP will be released for that cycle later this fall.

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. Research projects must include strong education and outreach components and contain measurable objectives.

Project proposals are reviewed and awarded by the OFRF Board of Directors, which includes a number of 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. Beginning farmers will find a number of resources here.

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.

Funding Levels

OFRF requests proposals with objectives that are realistically achievable with a modest level of funding. OFRF will not fund a project for more than $15,000 per year. Matching funds from other sources and in-kind contributions from applicants and cooperators are encouraged but not required.

Multi-Year Projects

OFRF acknowledges the importance of conducting long-term research to verify experimental results. OFRF will consider funding multi-year projects, but OFRF cannot guarantee funding for any project beyond a single year. Submission of an interim report and new proposal is required for OFRF to consider continued funding in subsequent years.

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, send proposal as a Word document or in PDF format as one attachment to an e-mail to grants@ofrf.org. OFRF will not accept proposals submitted in the body of an e-mail. All elements of a proposal must be included in a single document.

The primary audience for your proposal 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.

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.

Number the pages of your proposal.

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. 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
  • 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 

Provide a ½-page abstract of your project and its objectives, and then address each of these points in order:

1. List 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. State total amount of funding requested from OFRF. (Provide full budget with details later in proposal. (See item 10)

2. 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 operations.

3. 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?

4. 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. (For guidance, see Suggested Resources below.)

5. 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?

6. 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.

7. What is your 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.

8. 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.

9. What are your qualifications to do this work? What previous experience do you have in conducting organic systems research?  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).

10. What is your project budget? Document other sources of support for the project, all matching and in-kind resources, and list other funding sought. Your budget should detail labor, materials, travel, and outreach costs, with justification for each. Include fair compensation for farmer collaborators. If applying for a multi-year project, please provide a breakdown of your budget by year.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

Make sure to supply the name, address, e-mail address, and telephone number for the principal investigator for the project.

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.

2. 12-point font must be used for all text in the proposal.

3. Number the pages of your proposal and limit it to 9 pages.

4. Submit your proposal via e-mail as an attachment as a Word document or in PDF format to grants@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 Thursday, May 15, 2014.

Proposals submitted electronically or otherwise delivered after 11:59 PM Pacific Time Thursday, May 15, 2014 will not be considered for funding unless previously arranged with the Grants Program Administrator.

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. (10 points)

2. 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. (10 points)

3. Demonstrates meaningful farmer involvement in identifying the problem addressed by the project and in carrying out the project; provides compensation for farmer participation. (10 points)

4. Is designed with clear goals and objectives to provide information, tools, and/or methods that will be relevant, useful, and accessible to farmers. (10 points)

5. Documents uniqueness of project with a thorough literature review. (5 points)

6. Uses a scientifically sound methodology appropriate to meeting project objectives. (15 points)

7. Presents a strong education and outreach plan describing how the results will be disseminated to the farming community. (15 points)

8. 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. (10 points)

9. Describes the qualifications and skills of the applicants and all cooperators demonstrating that they are qualified to ensure the success of the project. (5 points)

10. Presents a well-justified and detailed budget appropriate to carrying out the project's objectives, showing any matching funds applied for or already secured. (10 points)

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.

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.

Additional resources can be found on our resources page.

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

ATTENTION FARMERS AND RANCHERS: Other funding opportunities may be available to you if you are a farmer, beginning farmer, landowner, Extension educator/specialist, or researcher working on related topics. Please refer to the publication “Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities”.