Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

Request for Pre-proposals (RFP) - Summer 2014

About this RFP

Complete RFP suitable for printing [PDF]

POTENTIAL GRANTEES: We have had some confusion regarding the Leopold Center RFP this year and the new processing rules with regards to the routing of goldsheets. Goldsheets should not be routed for the pre-proposal or the full proposal stage.

The RFP will follow normal procedure which can be found below.

The RFP’s are to include a simple estimated budget and a description of work. Max is 3 pages including the budget. If the pre-proposal is approved, we then request a full proposal with a full budget. If a full proposal is awarded, a grant agreement will be issued in December/January. Once it is signed, the PI will be required to route a goldsheet. More instructions will be issued as that time approaches.

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture (LCSA) was established by the Iowa Legislature as part of the Iowa Groundwater Protection Act of 1987.  Its mission is to identify and reduce negative environmental and socio-economic impacts of agricultural practices, contribute to the development of profitable farming systems that conserve natural resources, and cooperate with Iowa State University Extension to inform the public of new findings.

The Leopold Center’s annual competitive grants program consists of two main categories:

  1. Research: Proposals with a specific hypothesis-driven question designed into the work will make up the largest category of Center grant funding.  
  2. Project:  Proposals designed to carry out demonstration, educational, planning, capacity building or outreach efforts fall into this category.

These two main categories are divided into 10 subject portals and there will be four focus areas (described below) for this 2014 RFP.  The Leopold Center will give priority to pre-proposals whose outcomes contribute to increased resilience* on Iowa landscapes and demonstrate a systems approach to the identified problem or situation rather than investigating single-tactic solutions. Innovative research and project ideas are highly encouraged. Projects may be one to three years duration. (*Resilience is the ability of a system to absorb a disturbance and yet retain its structure and function.)

Focus areas for 2014-5:

The Center is particularly interested in pre-proposals in these areas:

  • Soil health
  • Biotic Integrity
    • Development of ecologically based pest management systems
    • Practices to encourage wildlife, pollinator and habitat (species) diversification
  • Identifying and managing vulnerabilities to agriculture
    • Legal, business, political, risk management
    • Biological, energy, structural
  • Food hubs/food distribution business development
    • Financial viability/viable business models
    • Food safety
    • Organizationial structure/decision-making models

Subject portals and managers

  • Soil:  Pre-proposals with a primary focus on soil health and practices that impact soil and soil productivity. (Jeri Neal)
  • Water: Pre-proposals with a primary focus on water quality, hydrology, water use and water infrastructure. (Jeri Neal)
  • Landscape: Pre-proposals with broad-based multi-use and multi-functional characteristics including externalities such as wildlife and habitat. (Jeri Neal)
  • Cropping Systems:  Pre-proposals investigating alternative crops, crop selection, crop development, cultivation practices and factors contributing to plant health or productivity. (Malcolm Robertson)
  • Energy:  Pre-proposals related to the production and utilization of energy in agriculture and food production. (Malcolm Robertson)
  • Climate:  Pre-proposals which primarily investigate the impact of weather and climate on all aspects of agriculture and food production. (Malcolm Robertson)
  • Livestock Systems:  Pre-proposals investigating livestock enterprises, nutrition, housing and other practices used in livestock husbandry. (Mark Rasmussen and Malcolm Robertson)
  • Policy:  Pre-proposals related to economic, legal, and business aspects of agriculture and farming as well as public programs (particularly crop insurance) which impact agriculture. (Mary Adams)
  • Social:  Pre-proposals related to the interactions of various stakeholders, organizations and interest groups focused on food and farming. (Mary Adams)
  • Marketing and Food Systems:  Pre-proposals that fit into the currently defined Local Food and Farm Initiative and Regional Food Systems Working Group interests, but also including issues related to food safety. (Craig Chase)

Important information about the RFP process

Who may submit a pre-proposal?  Investigators representing any Iowa nonprofit organization/agency and/or educational institution (i.e., soil and water conservation districts, schools and colleges, and regional development groups). Farmers, landowners, and farm-based businesses cannot apply independently, but are encouraged to partner with an eligible investigator in the pre-proposal process.

What to include in your pre-proposal? Please refer to the portal section to find the appropriate fit for your pre-proposal. Prepare a two- or three-page concept paper with these required elements. (Note that letters of support are not a consideration at this pre-proposal stage.)

  1. Separate cover page with project title, complete contact information for the principal investigator including mailing address, phone number and email address; dollar request per year; and the portal that best fits your pre-proposal.  (Do not count the cover page as part of your page total.) At the bottom please add: a departmental administrative/grant coordinator contact name, phone number and email address.
  2. Anticipated Outcome(s)—What will be the outcomes, both end-of-project and long-term, if you achieve your objectives? How will the pre-proposal contribute to more sustainable agricultural systems or increased resilience on the Iowa landscape?   For more information on how best to describe your desired outcome(s), please take time to view the short explanatory presentation
  3. Strategies—What activities will help you achieve project outcomes? Describe by outcome.
  4. Outreach—How (and with whom) will you share project results? You are strongly encouraged to outline plans to work with groups such as ISU Extension, NRCS, PFI, or other NGOs to help disseminate information about your work to producers, landowners and other interested parties.
  5. Budget— Estimates and financial explanation, starting February 1, 2015.  
  • Estimate total expenses and describe briefly for these categories:
    • Salary and Benefits
    • Equipment/Supplies/Materials
    • Travel; Subcontracts/Consultants
    • Other
  • Which of the following best describes your estimated budget?
    • 1) LCSA will provide all funding
    • 2) LCSA funds are a start, but work is contingent on other funds to meet all desired outcomes.
    • 3) LCSA funds fill a gap in ongoing work sponsored by other funding.
    • 4) LCSA funds will support completing part of the work even if funds from other sources are not received.

What criteria are used to assess each pre-proposal?

  1. Sustainability/resilience. How does the project contribute to increased agricultural sustainability and/or increased resilience* on Iowa landscapes?
  2. Research/development basis. How does the project contribute to formation of new knowledge or to the application/extension of current research as it relates to sustainable agriculture? To what extent is this proposal unique or innovative?
  3. Outcomes. If this project is funded, how will it inform or encourage changes in behavior or  practices?
  4. Budget/Leverage. Does the preliminary budget realistically reflect the scope and cost of the project activities? To what extent does the proposal have current or future potential to leverage additional resources?
  5. Partnership development.  To what extent will this proposal increase or support the work of other Leopold Center partners? What new partners could potentially participate in this project?

*Resilience is the ability of a system to absorb a disturbance and yet retain its structure and function (Walker and Salt 2006).

Who should receive your pre-proposal?

Based on your assessment of the subject portals and this year’s focus areas, please submit your pre-proposal to the appropriate manager (listed with each portal):

Jeri Neal, 515-294-5610, wink@iastate.edu, subject line: LCSA 2014 RFP
Craig Chase, 515-294-1854, cchase@iastate.edu, subject: LCSA 2014 RFP
Malcolm Robertson, 515-294-1166, malcolmr@iastate.edu, subject line: LCSA 2014 RFP
Mary Adams, 515-294-5832, madams@iastate.edu, subject line: LCSA 2014 RFP
Mark Rasmussen, 515-294-3711, markras@iastate.edu, subject: LCSA 2014 RFP (livestock systems pre-proposals only)

How to submit?

An electronic copy (sent via e-mail or delivered on a CD) or one hard copy must be received by 5 p.m., July 8, 2014. No faxes, please.  The electronic version should be a .doc, .docx, .txt file or PDF contained or attached with the e-mail. Be sure to combine all elements of your pre-proposal into one document. Send your copy to the appropriate manager listed in this RFP, who will acknowledge receipt of your pre-proposal.

Note to previous Leopold Center grantees: If you have a final report pending for a previously completed grant, it must be approved before we can consider a new pre-proposal from you. Please check with the appropriate manager if you have questions.

What happens after submission?

Pre-proposals will be screened for adherence to requirements found in this RFP as well as economic, environmental, community/social sustainability and fit with the Leopold Center mission priorities.  An invitation to submit a full proposal will be based upon review of all pre-proposals by the Leopold Center Advisory Board and staff.  The Center will notify all applicants in September 2014 as to whether they will be invited to submit a full proposal. Full proposals will be due October 27 and funding decisions made by early January 2015.

June 2014