Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Sustainable Agricultural Systems

Funding Agency:
US Department of Agriculture

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) is USDA’s flagship competitive grant program that provides funding for fundamental and applied research, education, and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. Within AFRI, the longterm purpose of this Sustainable Agricultural Systems (SAS) Request for Applications (RFA) is to help transform the U.S. food and agricultural system to increase production in sustainable ways as we approach a world population of 10 billion by 2050, and to do so in the context of diminishing land and water resources, climate variability, threats of disease and pest outbreaks, and challenges to human health and well-being. 

Solving these challenges will require a convergence of science, technology, and policy to improve agricultural productivity; ensure a safe, affordable, and nutritious supply of food; invigorate and realize the promise of the bioeconomy; and promote the development of a talented agricultural workforce. Recent advances in plant and animal biology, new technologies, the integration of large and complex sources of data knowledge of infrastructure and markets, and holistic approaches offer unprecedented opportunities for meeting the demands of the growing population. Transformation of our nation’s agricultural systems can ensure continued productivity growth, while conserving natural resources, and minimizing the environmental footprint of agriculture. The transformation of food and agricultural systems also requires an investment in human capital to catalyze a secure global food system that meets the health and nutritional needs of people across rural and urban communities alike.

For FY 2019, applications to the SAS RFA must focus on systems approaches that promote transformational changes in the U.S. food and agricultural system within the context of the longterm goals outlined subsequently in the program area priority description. NIFA seeks creative and visionary applications that take a systems approach for significantly improving the supply of affordable, safe, nutritious, and accessible agricultural products, while fostering economic development and rural prosperity in America. These approaches must demonstrate current needs and anticipate future social, cultural, behavioral, economic, health, and environmental impacts. Additionally, the outcomes of the work being proposed should result in societal benefits, including promotion of rural prosperity and enhancement of quality of life for all those involved in food and agricultural value chains from production to utilization and consumption.  


  • APPLICATION DEADLINE: September 26, 2019

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Applications may only be submitted by eligible entities. Eligibility is linked to the project type as specified below. Note that this RFA lists the general eligibility requirements for AFRI but only integrated and applicable FASE grants are relevant for this RFA.

1. Eligible applicants for single-function Research,Education or Extension Projects include: a) State Agricultural Experiment Station; b) colleges and universities (including junior colleges offering associate degrees or higher); c) university research foundations; d) other research institutions and organizations; e) Federal agencies, f) national laboratories; g) private organizations or corporations; h) individuals who are U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents; and i) any group consisting of two or more entities identified in a) through h). Eligible institutions do not include foreign and international organizations. 

2. Eligible applicants for Integrated Projects include: a) colleges and universities; b) 1994 Land-Grant Institutions; and c) Hispanic-serving agricultural colleges and universities (see  

3. Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement Grants Part II, C.2 contains the eligibility details for Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement (FASE) Grants. Note that under the FASE program, only Strengthening Coordinated Agricultural Project Grants are solicited in this RFA.

Amount Description

The amount available to support the AFRI program in FY 2016 will be approximately $350 million. Of this amount, no less than 30 percent will be made available to fund integrated research, education, and extension projects. Of the AFRI funds allocated to research activities, section 7406 of the FCEA directs 60 percent toward grants for fundamental (or basic) research and 40 percent toward grants for applied research. Of the AFRI funds allocated to fundamental research, not less than 30 percent will be directed toward research by multidisciplinary teams. It is anticipated that no less than 15 percent of the FY 2016 funds will be made available for Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement (FASE) Grants, and no more than two percent of the funds available for fundamental research will be made available for Equipment Grants. 

Funding Type





Environmental & Life Sciences
Social Sciences

External Deadline

June 4, 2019