2019 Request for Letters of Intent

for 2020 Grant Funding


Proposal Information for Research Projects

Applicant Eligibility and Proposal Deadlines


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 particularly encourages farmers, ranchers, graduate students, early career researchers, veterans, and Extension personnel to consider applying for funding. Farmers and ranchers often find that working with a professional researcher helps in the design and implementation of a research project. OFRF encourages such partnerships.


The deadline to submit Letters of Intent (LOI) is Friday, August 16, 2019. Successful applicants will be notified in fall 2019 and invited to submit a full proposal.

Overview of the Research Grants Program


OFRF offers funding for research on organic farming, ranching, and food systems. Funding also supports the dissemination of these research results to organic farmers and ranchers 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. The only exceptions are if the application addresses Priority Area 6 or 6a. Applicants should articulate how the proposed research project will foster the improvement or adoption of organic farming or ranching systems, as well as ways in which organic farmers or ranchers can utilize the proposed results in their operations. OFRF encourages proposals that address the resiliency of organic systems to challenges like climate change and/or have economic and social considerations to complement on-farm research. Research projects must include strong educational and outreach components and contain measurable outcomes. Projects should include expected impacts due to the results or outcomes of the projects.


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


This request for LOI is open to any agricultural production, social, economic, or policy-related topic of concern to organic farmers and/or ranchers.


2019 Priority Areas


Based on the OFRF report, 2016 National Organic Research Agenda, this year’s priority areas for research projects are listed below. In addition to the general priority areas, the 2019 grant cycle includes Special Topics. These areas may be research-based or integrated (research, education, and/or extension). Proposal submissions must meet one or more of the seven priority areas listed below. We encourage applicants to refer to the 2016 National Organic Research Agenda for more details on the research priorities listed below.


1. Soil Health. Topics of primary interest include carbon sequestration, reduced tillage systems, and fertility management focused on reducing environmental impacts and improving soil health.  

Special Topics: 

  • 1 a. Impact of soil management practices and soil health on crop nutritional quality and human health.  
  • 1 b. Links between soil health and the health of plants, livestock, and/or humans.

2. Innovative Weed Control. Topics of primary interest include weed control strategies that integrate soil improvement practices.


3. Organic Insect Pest Management. Topics of primary interest include management of emerging insect pest issues.


4. Livestock Health. Topics of particular interest include livestock production and best practices for grass-based livestock production.


5. Climate Change. Addressing impacts on and adaptations to climate change.

  • 5 a. Tools that can be implemented by agricultural producers to measure the impacts of organic farming practices on net greenhouse gas emissions.
  • 5 b. Best practices to help organic farmers and ranchers mitigate and adapt to the effects of  climate change.
  • 5 c. Economic incentives for organic production systems to address the impacts of climate change (e.g., ecosystem markets, price premiums for mitigation practices, etc.).

6. Social science research on the marketing, policy, and economic barriers to successful organic production, including barriers to transition from conventional to organic.

Special Topic:

  • 6 a. Best practices to support the transition from conventional to organic farming systems.

7. Research on critical emerging issues related to environmental, economic, or social challenges for organic growers.




OFRF requests LOI 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; however, OFRF cannot guarantee funding for any project beyond a single year.




In order to fairly evaluate each LOI, OFRF will use the following guidelines for review:

  • OFRF accepts electronic LOI submissions only. To apply, fill out the online application form at ofrf.org/loi2019
  • Reviewers include 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; Letters of Intent that are concise and to the point are appreciated.
  • You will be asked to upload your LOI to the online application form in PDF format. Limit the body of the LOI to no more than the word count limit for each section. The word limit is rigorously enforced to ensure fairness. Letters of Intent that surpass the word limit will not be considered for funding.
  • OFRF requires the use of 12-point font for all text in the LOI.
  • A successful LOI 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 the actual and proposed impacts.
  • Farmers and ranchers are OFRF’s primary constituency; your Letter of Intent must address a need (or needs) of farmers or ranchers, and present outcomes that are useful and accessible to farmers or ranchers.
  • OFRF reserves the right to not accept a LOI into competition if it deems that it is not competitive because of certification status or inadequate methodology; or if the LOI does not address organic farming issues or does not follow these LOI requirements.



Complete the online application form and include the name, phone number, address, and electronic contact information for the principal investigator of the project. Identify the project title.


You will upload as a single PDF the following items in the application checklist.


1. Rationale. What is the issue that you are addressing and why is it important to organic producers? Farmers and ranchers are OFRF’s primary constituency; does your proposal address an identified farmer or rancher need or needs such as those outlined in OFRF’s National Organic Research Agenda? (250 words)


2. Research Objectives. What are the specific objectives and goals of the project? For each objective or goal, present a measurable outcome that will indicate successful achievement of the objective. (200 words)


3. Research description/methods. Describe the hypothesis for the proposed research; the main treatments or study population; location and scope of the trials; and measurements to be taken.  (200 words)


4. Research outreach and results dissemination. What is your outreach plan for delivering project outcomes to farmers, ranchers, or other end users? (125 words)


5. Innovation and adoptability. How innovative is your approach to addressing the research issue? How useful and adoptable will the results be for farmers and ranchers? (100 words)


6. Farmer involvement. How have farmers or ranchers been involved in the development of the proposal idea? What role will farmers or ranchers play in the proposed project? (125 words)


7. Qualifications. Briefly describe primary team members, including the project leader and other key cooperators. Descriptions should demonstrate the ability to manage the project, conduct research activities, and provide full financial oversight. Name the individuals, their organizational affiliation, and their primary responsibilities in the project. (125 words)


8. Organic certification. Is the research area on certified organic land? Yes or no. This excludes Priority Areas 6 and 6a.




The following criteria will be used for evaluation:


1. Addresses at least one of the Priority Areas or Special Topics outlined in the request for LOI.

2. Is conducted on certified organic land or in a certified organic greenhouse, or with organic farming populations/communities. This excludes Priority Areas 6 and 6a.

3. Presents clear objectives demonstrating the project will meet the needs of organic farmers and ranchers, fosters the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming and ranching practices, and specifies measurable outcomes that indicate successful achievement of the research objectives. 

4. Demonstrates meaningful farmer or rancher involvement in identifying the problem(s) addressed by the project, planning, and implementation of the project. For social science projects, farmer and rancher involvement may relate to farmers or ranchers as research participants.


5. Presents a strong education and outreach plan describing how the results will be disseminated to the farming or ranching community.

6. Is interdisciplinary and/or systems based, and/or addresses multiple priorities as outlined in the request for LOI.

7. Describes the qualifications and skills of the applicants and all collaborators demonstrating that they are qualified to ensure the success of the project.

8. Additional consideration will be given to farmer- or rancher-directed research teams, new or early career researchers, and graduate students.




Successful applicants will be notified in fall 2019 and asked to submit a full proposal.


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