Wyo Department of Ag seeks applicants for ag producer research grant program
In the 2013 Wyoming Legislature, a new program was formed with the intent of increasing the speed that practical research is available to agriculture producers around the state. The Ag Producer Research Grant Program was authorized $200,000 funding in its first year.
“There is a lot of practical research that comes out of our university,” says Chris Wichmann, manager of the Natural Resources and Policy Division at the Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA), “but often that research takes a while to come out and benefit Wyoming’s ag producers.”
“The legislators thought they would create a program that would foster practical research for Wyoming’s producers and enhance agriculture production,” Wichmann continues.
The program is in its second biennium and has $128,720 available for producers. The deadline for proposals for the most recent round of funding is April 6 by 5 p.m.
The Ag Producer Research Grant Program strives to fund research projects that haven’t been done before.
“We don’t want the same projects proposed again and again,” Wichmann emphasizes. “We want producers to think outside the box and identify ag practices that are working for them that may be new and innovative.”
“Producers may qualify for this program if they are doing something their neighbor isn’t doing or that isn’t traditional but still produces good results,” he says. “We want producers to think about the innovative things they are doing, provide adequate research on the practice and provide that information to other producers throughout the state.”
Wichmann also notes, however, that WDA still emphasizes valid science with these grant programs.
“If the applicant isn’t a researcher, they have to have a research advisor to help them through the scientific portion of the project,” he says. “They also have to perform a scientific literature review done to make sure the research is new, and they have to have a robust outreach program identified.”
An integral part of the Ag Producer Research Grant Program is its ability to distribute the results for use by other producers across the state.
“Outreach may be one of the most important components of this program,” Wichmann notes.
Another unique aspect of this program is that no matching funding is required, though producers who provide up to at least a 10 percent match are given preference.
“We want producers to feel comfortable that they don’t have to put out money,” Wichmann explains, “and we want to make sure that anyone can apply. It is more producer-friendly this way.”
However, there is a stipulation that none of the funds that are obtained from the program can be used for overhead or administrative costs.
“All of the money used in this program should go to the actual research process,” he says.
Producers interested in applying for the program can find the application and other information online at wyagric.state.wy.us/divisions/nrp/aprg-program.
In addition, a sample application is available at the website, and Wichmann comments, “We have staff available to help any producer who might need assistance in this process.”
After applications are received, an independent review panel, consisting of two livestock producers, two crop producers and one researcher, reviews the applications and recommends projects to the WDA director. The director then provides recommendations to the Board of Agriculture, who selects the final projects to be funded.
“It is exciting to see the variety of things that people are doing on the ground,” Wichmann comments. “It is also great to see the enthusiasm of our producers and what they are doing.”
However, he notes that continued interest from producers who want to do research on the ground is important and a continuing challenge.
Wichmann explains, “We want this to be a producer-driven program.”
To date, the Ag Producer Research Grant Program has funded 15 projects for a total of $271,280. Eleven projects were funded in the first biennium of the program, and in the 2015-16 biennium, four projects have been funded to date.
At this point, only one project has been completed, since many are currently in progress. It is related to brucellosis vaccines in cattle. The project looked at altering use of RB51, the current vaccine, to provide improved immunity. The results are very exciting and may benefit livestock producers in areas where brucellosis is endemic, says the Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA). The research is slated to be published later this year and will be available on the WDA website.
Other projects range from sage grouse and livestock research to traditional and emerging crop research. Research is also being conducted on invasive species, tillage options and pest control.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.