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USDA Programs

USDA Agroforestry Strategic Framework provides the roadmap for USDA’s role in advancing agroforestry to enhance the nation's economy as well as its agricultural landscapes, watersheds, and communities. This outlines USDA goals in agroforestry, which are reinforced in the USDA Policy for Agroforestry:

  • Adoption - Assisting producers who wish to implement agroforestry practices on their land.

  • Science - Supporting scientists to research agroforestry production systems and measure their impacts on economic, environmental, and social outcomes.

  • Integration - Integrating agroforestry more thoroughly into USDA policies and programs - from research projects to farm loans to conservation programs and more.

A wide range of USDA agencies have programs relevant to producers, forest landowners, and others who are interested in implementing agroforestry systems. Other programs are relevant to researchers and academics pursuing funding opportunities for research in agroforestry. Agroforestry is not always identified in announcements about funding opportunities, but agroforestry systems meet the goals of a wide range of programs.

Financial Incentives


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Programs Supporting Agroforestry Research

An overview of external agroforestry research funding opportunities offered by USDA agencies can be found in Guide to USDA Agroforestry Research Funding Opportunities. The description for each grant program includes a discussion of opportunities for agroforestry research, examples of agroforestry research projects supported, eligibility requirements, and additional information. In particular, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture's (NIFA) Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program funds many grants that support research and outreach in agroforestry. To more easily share ideas generated through these projects, NAC has created an index of many SARE projects related to agroforestry.

Agency Program Example Project

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)

Silvopasture with Hybrid Poplar and Sheep

This project sought to demonstrate a successful silvopasture system for hybrid poplars and sheep during the early years of the tree rotation. The challenge was to demonstrate that sheep could be successfully pastured in young stands without causing damage to the trees.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Hatch Funds

Determining Effects of Nitrogen Fixing Plants on Nutrient Density and Productivity in Agroforestry and Polyculture Systems

The University of the District of Columbia is researching the impacts of including nitrogen fixing trees and shrubs in food forest systems in order to demonstrate viable polyculture crops for the Mid-Atlantic region.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture


Tree-based Soil Carbon Research and Outreach in Middle Tennessee

This project sought to enhance soil carbon sequestration in limited resource small agroforestry and forest wood land owners through applied research, demonstration and implementation.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

McIntire-Stennis Capacity Grant

Development and Evaluation of Agroforestry Systems

University of Florida researchers are collaborating at five sites around the world (Florida: bahia/slash pine; India: multispecies plants; Brazil: shade-grown cacao; Spain: oak dehesa grazing system; Brazil: silvopasture with eucalyptus) to compare agroforestry systems with treeless systems. The major focus of the project was on carbon sequestration in soils under agroforestry systems.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Grant

Agroforestry-based Cropping Systems for Sustaining Small- and Medium-sized Land Owners in the Southeastern US

The long-term goal of the project is to promote sustainable agriculture and resilient rural communities through the development of robust, sustainable agroforestry alley cropping systems that promote long-term soil productivity and generate both short- and long-term incomes from crops, livestock, and trees.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program

Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Program: Growing Opportunities beneath the Canopy

The project goal is to support beginning Appalachian medicinal plant forest farmers by forming a coalition that provides technical, administrative, and market sales training and improves access to farm resource inventory and plant habitat management services. The project will: 1) establish an inclusive coalition with clear organizational structure and decision making processes; 2) educate, train, and support beginning forest farmers; and 3)improve forest farm inventory and medicinal plant habitat management services for beginning forest farmers.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)

Developing a US Produced Elderberry Juice Concentrate for Domestic and Export Markets

The objectives of the project are to develop US produced elderberry juice concentrate by creating a manufacturing process design, establishing the framework supporting business to business elderberry cooperative, and developing a national and global branding and marketing strategy.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)

Developing Native and Native-European Hybrid Hazelnut Germplasm and Agronomics for the Upper Midwest

The goal of this long-term project is to develop a viable bush-type hazelnut industry in the Upper Midwest, based on native Corylus americana and hybrids between C. americana and the European hazelnut, C. avellana, for the purpose of diversifying agriculture to enhance ecological and economic sustainability.

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

National Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)

Creating Working Landscapes from Former Urban Lands in Legacy Cities

In the city of Peoria, Illinois, Fresh Coast Capital proposes to pilot an innovative approach to financing green infrastructure through impact investing in agroforestry and vegetable farming. The project will serve as a model for expansion with privately funded impact investment capital throughout Peoria and into 40 or more cities facing both land vacancy and stormwater compliance challenges.

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

State Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)

Agroforestry in Iowa: Outreach to Landowners and Resource Professionals for Long Term Reductions in Nutrient Loading

Trees Forever will work with partners to host a series of agroforestry workshops targeted to Iowa landowners and resource professionals. Workshops will introduce agroforestry as a strategy to reduce sedimentation and nutrient loading, support and empower participants to disseminate this knowledge to others in their local communities, and build a collaborative network of agroforestry ambassadors and practitioners throughout the state.

Agricultural Marketing Service

Specialty Crop Block Grant

Specialty Crop Education in Hops, Soil Fertility for Fruit and Vegetable Crops, and Agroforestry Systems

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development partnered with the Institute for Sustainable Living, Art & Natural Design (ISLAND) to educate farmers about hops production, agroforestry and soil fertility by hosting conferences to increase awareness.

Agricultural Marketing Service

Federal-State Marketing Improvement Grant

Improving the production of wild simulated ginseng in the state of Tennessee by providing outreach and certification services to farmers*

Through this project, Middle Tennessee State University will provide outreach and service to Tennessee forest plantation owners to build knowledge and resources for growing wild simulated ginseng, while also addressing urgent conservation concerns for wild ginseng.

*Project not included in report