Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program Assessment

Since 1988, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE), a Congressionally authorized program housed at the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA/USDA), has distributed nearly $300 million in grant funds to 7,275 projects. These projects have ranged from large Research and Education (R&E) grants of over $300,000 primarily to university researchers to $10,000 grants directly to farmers and ranchers across the nation to do research on their own farms. Over the past 30 years, there has been no systematic attempt to develop a comprehensive assessment what has been learned from this massive infusion of federal grant money to the sustainable agriculture community. UGA agricultural and applied economists decided to find out what SARE has accomplished. The first year of the project has examined the history of the SARE program and the evolution of the field of sustainable agriculture and lessons learned from the SARE program model. The project has also organized and categorized the 1,607 projects into 10 sets of agricultural practices and nine groups of commodities. Phase one will be a review of the project database reports and tagging to determine the scope and methods of assessment, and to develop project and output specifications.