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ANR Employees

USDA AFRI Foundational Program - Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities – A1661 (SFS- SNE- HFC)

Date: July 27, 2017

Time: All Day

Contact: Vanity Campbell

Sponsor: OCG

Event Details

USDA NIFA AFRI Foundational Program - Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities – A1661

Funding Opportunity Number: USDA-NIFA-AFRI-006351

Funding Organization's Deadline:  Thursday, July 27, 2017 at 5:00 PM PST

Discipline/Subject Area: Community development; Economic development

ANR Priority Area(s): SFS, SNE, HFC

Funding Available($): $500,000


Description: The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) is America’s flagship competitive grants program that provides funding for fundamental and applied research, education, and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. The purpose of the AFRI is to support research, education, and extension work by awarding grants to solve key problems of local, regional, national, and global importance in sustaining conventional, organic, and urban agricultural systems. These include farm efficiency, profitability and sustainability, ranching, bioenergy, forestry, aquaculture, rural communities and entrepreneurship, human nutrition, mitigating impacts of biotic and abiotic constraints on food production, food safety, mitigating food waste and food loss, physical and social sciences, home economics and rural human ecology, biotechnology, and classical breeding. Through this support, AFRI advances knowledge in both fundamental and applied sciences important to agriculture. It also allows AFRI to support education and extension activities that deliver science-based knowledge to end users, allowing them to make informed, practical decisions.

In this RFA, NIFA requests applications for six AFRI priority areas through the Foundational Program for FY 2017.

  1. Plant health, and production and plant products;
  2. Animal health, and production and animal products;
  3. Food safety, nutrition, and health;
  4. Bioenergy, natural resources, and environment;
  5. Agriculture systems and technology; and
  6. Agriculture economics and rural communities

Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities

The AERC Program Area supports rigorous social science projects, including behavioral and experimental economics research and analysis, that informs decision making and policy design to enhance the sustainability of agricultural production systems, both conventional and organic, and related activities in rural areas, protect the environment, enhance quality of life, and alleviate poverty. Topical issues include, but are not limited to, the interactions between agriculture, environment and communities in rural areas; demographic changes and impacts; consumer preferences or behavior; decision-making under uncertainty; crop insurance; availability of credit and financing; market structure and performance; and policy design and impact. The AERC Program Area supports social and behavioral science disciplines. Interdisciplinary efforts involving social and nonsocial science disciplines are also invited.

Innovation for Rural Entrepreneurs and Communities

Program Area Priority Code – A1661

Project periods of up to 5 years.

Letter of Intent not required for this program area priority


This Program Area Priority is designed to support rigorous theoretical and empirical efforts to create innovative approaches for advancing economic opportunities for rural entrepreneurs and communities. Projects can be either integrated or research only. Projects may evaluate the institutional, social, or economic factors affecting decision making and policy development to enhance the economic growth and well-being of rural communities.

Projects may also explore strategies to promote community and regional innovation in youth entrepreneurship, workforce development and address community and human capital challenges, poverty and income inequality, including through the promotion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics/ Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture/Arts and Mathematics (STEM/STEAM), in rural areas. This program focuses mainly on entrepreneurs and small businesses who are important sources of employment, and/or on other issues “beyond the farm gate” (for projects that focus mainly on farms, see the Small and Medium-Sized Farms program area priority (A1601)).

Emphasis areas for Research Project and Integrated Project applications to this program area priority include, but are not limited to:

  • Improve the understanding of factors and conditions that enhance economic opportunities for food and agricultural and rural businesses through tools from the various social sciences, (i.e., sociology, demography, economics, geography, etc.), studies that focus on women, and ethnic and racial minority groups are of interest.
  • Examine approaches to expanding local and regional food systems, such as through food hubs and intermediated markets. What are the best strategies for scaling up from direct marketing to regional markets, and improving efficiencies while maintaining the benefits of local identity?
  • Examine transportation, energy, and other infrastructure-related decisions and their implications, including interagency initiatives, for agricultural and rural communities.
  • Assess the impact of federal investments and strategies, (e.g., Rural Utilities Service, National Telecommunication and Information Administration) on expansion and impact of broadband into rural communities.
  • Examine self-employment/non-farm proprietorship and explore the factors that spur the growth and survival of these entrepreneurial efforts or that contribute to their demise. Are there community factors that affect the growth of self-employment? What factors lead to decline or failure of these proprietorships? What policies may promote the sustainability of these establishments? Are there unique challenges faced by women, and ethnic and racial minorities or recent immigrants?
  • Examine the role of regional and multi-agency collaborative strategies in addressing rural economic development. What do we know about, what worked and what didn’t, and why? What are the implications in terms of future development strategies? Note, our interest is in lessons learned, not an evaluation of a particular program.


What are the mechanisms or barriers to identifying innovations (technologies, products or processes) that were funded under Federal Government programs that exist and are stalled within academic institutions? How can these innovations be moved out of the academic institution towards commercialization and entry into a commercial market? Additional analysis should be considered to examine how these new innovations could utilize support programs such as the USDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to encourage commercialization. Conduct analysis on how investors or entrepreneurs identify existing innovations within academic institutions and begin to exploit commercial opportunities?

  • What are the set of community/county, regional, or other structural factors that contribute to high rates of child poverty? What are the possible solutions – programmatic or policy related – that offer hope to rural communities, counties and/or regions that continue to face barriers with regard to tackling this major problem and its broader social consequences?
  • Income inequality is a growing crisis in this nation. What is not well understood is how income inequality varies in rural America and why? Is it linked to the nature of a county’s major economic drivers, is it linked to human capital, to population growth/decline, or to other factors?


OCG Note: Please note any changes to the funding opportunity including deadline dates may not be updated to this calendar. Please visit the Sponsor's website below for additional  information.

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