How We Work

FFAR builds public-private partnerships to fund innovative food and agriculture science that transforms food systems to benefit farmers, consumers and the environment.

We engage stakeholders across academia, public sector and private companies to identify pressing research ideas with potential to fill critical knowledge gaps and advance science. While an independent nonprofit, the Foundation complements and advances the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) mission and builds programs that are of mutual interest to USDA and the agricultural community at-large. We fund only the most innovative, actionable science with the potential for positive impact in the United States and around the world.

FFAR’s Funding Mechanisms

FFAR awards grants in four ways:

Requests for Application (RFA)

FFAR issues a Request for Application (RFA) to solicit ideas from the broadest group of researchers. Some of FFAR’s programs issue RFAs annually and others are a one-time opportunity. The highest quality proposals in terms of technical merit and impact are selected for funding through a rigorous scientific review process


FFAR offers prize competitions to inspire excellence in food and agriculture science or to solve an imminent problem. Prizes are awarded to individuals or organizations who meet the prize criteria and solve the food and agriculture challenge.

Direct Funds

When FFAR knows of a specific individual or organization that is well- suited to conduct the necessary research, a research proposal may be directly solicited from that organization. The proposal is subject to the same rigorous scientific review process and matching funding requirement as other proposals.


Food and agriculture research can be financially risky. FFAR establishes precompetitive consortia to address common problems recognized across the industry, where solutions are beneficial to all. Consortia participants jointly determine research priorities, pool resources and knowledge, and share research results, which also become public.

Developing Research Programs

FFAR builds scientific programs to advance agriculture research on specific topics and funds innovative projects through those programs.

The stages of FFAR’s research program development includes Concept Development, Concept Clearance and Program Approval.

Funding Research

After a research program is established, FFAR announces the program publicly and funds innovative projects through those programs. 


Application Review

FFAR typically evaluates and scores program proposals based on four categories of weighted review criteria:

  • Novelty, Innovation and Originality (30%)
  • Impact and Outcome (25%)
  • Technical Merit and Feasibility (30%)
  • Partnerships (15%)

At times, FFAR customizes review criteria and/or changes the weighting based on the program priorities. In such cases, the review criteria are outlined in the Request for Application. FFAR requests reviewers provide comments on criteria for evaluation after each review. This allows FFAR to continually improve the evaluation process.

Grant’s Notification Process

Applicants interested in applying for a FFAR grant must first create an SM Apply Account. FFAR will send a confirmation notice once the account has been created.

If an applicant applies for a funding opportunity that requires a pre-proposal stage, FFAR will send a notification confirming submission of the pre-proposal. Prior to the full proposal application open date, FFAR will notify the applicant as to whether they are invited to submit a full proposal. Applicants will receive an automated confirmation message from FFAR once their full application has been submitted.

Once FFAR has determined the awardees, FFAR will distribute a decision notice to the applicant. An Intent to Award notice indicates that the applicant has been selected for funding. A Conditional Award notice means the applicant has been selected for funding, with conditional terms. A Decline to Award notice informs the applicant they have not been selected for funding.

Awardees will receive their grant agreement following the Intent to Award notice and they have about two weeks to sign the agreement. All notices are sent via email.

View additional FAQs about FFAR’s grant process