CROPP’s Farmers Advocating for Organics

Grant Criteria

Farmers Advocating for Organics is a competitive grantmaking fund and is open to applicants seeking funding for projects or programs that are oriented towards protecting, safeguarding, and advancing organic agriculture and organic marketplace through research, advocacy and/or education. The committee accepts proposals from NGOs, universities, public/private schools, and farmers who are interested in securing funds for their organic specific projects. FAFO currently accepts proposals from applicants within the United States and Canada. Applicants are encouraged to carefully review the mission of CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley to ensure that FAFO is the best granting program for your project. Successful proposals will need to affect independent, organic, family farmers by addressing one or more of the following giving categories:

  • Organic farmer or consumer research;
  • Organic farmer or consumer education;
  • Education of CROPP members or membership;
  • Education and resources supporting beginning, current, and/or transitioning organic farmers;
  • Advocacy meant to protect organic integrity, standards and/or marketplace. 

Proposals that do not fall within any of the above giving categories will not be considered by the FAFO committee. 

FAFO will not be able to accept proposals if individual/organization has a past due progress report from prior FAFO award.

Additional Spending Priorities for September 2013

In addition to the above listed categories, FAFO is especially interested in receiving proposals that address the following topics:

Soil: Healthy, fertile soil is the foundation of organic farming operations; to increase on-farm sustainability, productivity, nutrition, and animal health, FAFO seeks to increase understanding of this complex resource through support of:

  1. Projects that provide research and measurement on the impacts of organic agriculture as it pertains to soil health, nutrient uptake, mineralization, weed /pest management, water capacities, erosion, etc.
  2. Projects that educate and collaborate with organic farmers to increase soil management knowledge/skills.
  3. Projects that exemplify innovative models for successful, regionally focused peer-to-peer / mentor-to-peer groups to further build upon, soil knowledge

Seed: FAFO seeks to increase availability of organic seed through investment in organic seed research, farmer knowledge and skills, and advocacy. We are interested in funding:

  1. Projects that are developing education and support programs that enable farmers to do their own organic seed field trials/breeding.
  2. Research projects that fill crucial knowledge gaps as it pertains to organic plant breeding.
  3. Collaborative advocacy efforts that bring awareness to the need for a more balanced approach to the funding of research and protection of this public asset.

Farmland Access/ Preservation: FAFO is interested in supporting projects which advance the opportunities to increase organic acreage to meet the growing demands of the organic consumer/farmer. For example:

  1. Projects that explore innovative funding models which allow organic farmers to access land or expand operations.
  2. Projects that aim to preserve farmland that may be threatened by development.

Young Farmer Leadership Training:  To ensure that the organic leadership of tomorrow is getting the training it needs now, FAFO is interested in funding:

  1. Projects that train young farmers to be leaders in their local communities, as well in the organic agricultural industry through a focus on public speaking, media and advocacy training, etc.

Health & Wellness Education: FAFO is interested in supporting projects that address one or more of the following topics related to education:

  1. Projects developing and disseminating curriculum with the aim of improving wellness of students through healthful eating.
  2. Projects whose aim is to organize and enable communities to affect change in their local school lunchrooms.   

Extended Criteria

Please consider the following giving criteria before deciding to submit your proposal:

1. Multi-year funding: FAFO acknowledges the importance of conducting multi-year projects to assure continuity and to achieve long-term goals or scientific validity. However, because a principle of the fund is to ensure accountability and results, the fund will only commit funding one year at a time. Upon completion of an interim report that includes an updated proposal, FAFO will consider continued funding for an ongoing project. While projects submitted to and approved by FAFO may span longer than one year, FAFO generally will not award grants that provide funding for multiple years.

2. Funding levels: FAFO is open to funding both small and large scale projects with a suggested budgetary guideline being $5,000 - $50,000 per year. In addition, FAFO has established a Small Grant Fund for individuals and organizations seeking grants that amount to less than $5,000.

3. Scope of Project: FAFO is interested in funding projects that will have a significant impact on the organic marketplace, as well as projects that are innovative and offer to serve as a model for other organizations or regions. Generally, FAFO will not fund projects that are limited to having a small local or regional impact.

4. Budget Restrictions: The FAFO Committee generally will not consider funding the following expenses:

  • Farm labor not related to research or education activities
  • Other farm expenses not related to research or education activities
  • Permanent equipment
  • Travel to professional meetings
  • Construction and remodeling of buildings
  • Purchase of livestock (unless a short term requirement for project)
  • Administrative overhead exceeding 5% or general operational costs (including university administrative indirect costs)
  • Additional budget criteria may also be used

FAFO recognizes that there are acceptable exceptions to the above list and therefore encourages applicants to submit reasonable proposals. Applicants may also contact FAFO regarding proposal-specific questions.

Regarding funding, the grant recipients: 1) will only be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred after the initial funding date; 2) may need to submit a final report and a final budget documenting the project expenditures before the fund will release final payment (if a portion of the payment is withheld); 3) must return unspent funds; 4) will have a 1099 form automatically filed with IRS with each payment for tax reporting purposes.

5. Reporting: Because FAFO is a farmer-funded/farmer-directed program, the practice of regularly reporting to the CROPP Cooperative membership will be required. The FAFO committee requires that all Grant Recipients submit regular progress reports. Upon approval of a grant, a reporting schedule will be agreed upon between the grantee and grantor and will be included in the grant contract.

When submitting progress reports, keep in mind that the primary audience will be CROPP farmer-members. Progress Reports should address the following points/questions in 1-3 pages:

  1. Project Summary
  2. Objectives Statement – Original goals and project objectives
  3. Materials and Methods – Describe project methodologies and materials used
  4. Project developments and expectations, including timeline and any adjustments needed. Be sure to include information about whether or not your project is ahead or behind the proposed timeline. Discuss externalities that affected your progress.
  5. Budget Review – Where and how have FAFO funds been used to-date?
  6. Project Goals – What do you hope to accomplish by the end of the next reporting period?

Progress reports must be submitted by the project leader (or other highly involved person/s).  In addition, we may ask that the Grant Recipient agree to submit short article updates for the co-op newsletter and/or conversations with members of the FAFO committee.

At the end of the project the grantee must submit: 1) a final report summarizing the project, including objectives and outcomes; 2) a final budget that shows how funds were spent; 3) photos or slides (electronic format preferred), when possible, of project activities or outreach events and any other requirements detailed in the contract. Final Reports should address the following points/questions (minimum of 3 pages):

  1. Project Summary
  2. Objectives Statement and Discussion– Original goals and project objectives and a discussion about whether or not you feel the goals were achieved.
  3. Materials and Methods – Describe project methodologies and materials used.  Briefly describe the type of outreach you performed and expect to do.
  4. Project Results – Present your qualitative and quantitative results
  5. Budget Review
  6. Outreach strategy: How will the project results or findings be shared?
  7. Conclusion and Discussion
  8. Photos of your project – If possible, we would appreciate photos of your project under development or upon completion.

After the completed final report has been submitted, two FAFO Committee members will conduct a project reivew. They may or may not request additional project information to satisfy the grant terms, including dispersment of any funds withheld.

Additional Criteria

  • Applicants must sign a grant contract before initial payment of grant is awarded. The reporting and project timelines will be detailed in the contract.
  • FAFO may retain up to 20% of the total grant award until completion of the project, timely submission of a final report, and a satisfactory evaluation of the project by FAFO committee.
  • Evaluation involves analyzing whether or not the original project objectives were met, not the success or failure of a project.
  • During project, grantee may receive an on-site visit by staff or committee members or be asked additional questions per the progress report.
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