Research Grants Program Overview

OFRF is pausing its grant program and will not be opening a 2020 grant cycle. We are taking this time to survey organic and transitioning producers to ensure OFRF grants provide the most value to the organic farming community. The results of this survey will be published in an updated National Organic Research Agenda. We are also working to finalize our climate-related research priorities based on our robust literature review of work done to date in this field. The outcomes of this work will inform our next request for proposals. Please continue to visit our website and sign up for our newsletter to stay informed about our next grant cycle.

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) grants program is open to applicants residing in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Applying for funding is a two-step process. Applicants first submit a Letter of Intent (LOI). A subset of LOI applicants are invited to submit a full proposal. OFRF will fund projects up to $20,000. Most projects span one year; multi-year projects will only receive funding for the first year.

OFRF particularly encourages farmers, ranchers, graduate students, veterans, early career researchers, and Extension personnel to apply for funding. Farmers and ranchers often find that working with a professional researcher is helpful for designing and conducting a research project, and OFRF encourages applications from such partnerships.

OFRF offers funding for research on organic production systems and the dissemination of these research results to organic farmers and agricultural and research communities. Proposals MUST be farmer-led or meaningfully involve farmers or ranchers in project design and implementation. Unless otherwise noted in the RFP, projects 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 use the project 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 complement on-farm research. Research projects MUST include strong education and outreach components and contain measurable outcomes. Projects should include expected impacts due to the results or outcomes of the projects.

Project proposals are reviewed and funds are awarded by the OFRF Board of Directors, most of whom are certified organic producers. OFRF does not provide funding to start or expand a commercial enterprise.

For more information, please contact the OFRF Research Grants Department by phone at 831.426.6606 or e-mail grants@ofrf.org.

Grant Program FAQs

No. Research must be conducted in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico.

  • Currently, we only fund research on certified organic land—the only exceptions are if the proposal addresses topics 6 or 6a, as outlined in the request for letters of intent and full proposals.
  • We may make exceptions for people who can clearly document they are on the path to organic certification and working with an organic certifier. Organic certification paperwork or a letter from your certifier stating you are on the formal path toward organic certification is required to be submitted as part of your LOI application.

No. We only fund research on land that is certified organic (or, in some cases, that is in the formal process of transitioning to organic certification).

  • Every year, the grant cycle begins when the request for Letters of Intent (LOI) is posted on the OFRF website and announced in an OFRF newsletter, typically in July. The LOI submission period is 6-8 weeks long.
  • LOI applications are scored by our review committee, comprised mostly of members of the OFRF board of directors. The applicants chosen to submit a full proposal are notified in October.
  • Invited full proposals are due in December.
  • Invited full proposals are scored by our review committee and successful grantees are typically notified in April/May.
  • Single use materials needed for the research activities including, but not limited to, compost, seeds, etc.
  • Labor and other expenses for recording, analyzing, documenting, and disseminating results
  • Purchase of equipment under $1,000 including but not limited to, fencing, tractor attachments, livestock, etc. that is needed for the research project. If you need to exceed this limit to conduct your project, please provide clear justification in your budget.
  • Rental of large equipment necessary to the project
  • Stipends for farmer/rancher cooperators; student labor
  • 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 $0.58 per mile).
  • General overhead and operational costs
  • Faculty salaries
  • Student tuition
  • Farm labor not related to research activities
  • Other farm expenses not related to the proposed research activities
  • Permanent equipment over $1,000
  • International travel
  • Travel to professional meetings
  • Publication fees for scientific journals

OFRF provides a maximum grant award of $20,000 per project.

Yes, however we put a high priority on projects that have not received other grant funding.

  • Our strongest applications include a combination of research, education, and outreach components. They clearly describe the need for the research they are proposing, explain the questions to be addressed, include strong scientific methodology, and showcase how farmers and ranchers would be involved throughout the project.
  • They are concise, but descriptive, showcasing why this specific project should be funded.
  • They are interdisciplinary and take a systems-level approach to tackling the complex problems that face many organic farmers and ranchers.

Submit an application describing the work you want to complete in the subsequent year, with the objectives and work plan for the new project. Reference your previous year of funding, the research that was done, and any additional research that needs to occur. Please clearly explain why you need an additional year of funding and what makes this application different from your previous proposal.

If the projects are distinct, please submit a separate LOI proposal for each of the proposed projects.

If there is a problem with your PDF or we notice the attachment did not come through, we will email you requesting a copy of the PDF via email after the submission period has ended. If your application was successfully submitted, you will receive email confirmation.