Request for Proposals - Beef Sustainability Research

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, is soliciting research proposals for Sustainability Research. 

Research ideas should be novel, applicable to the industry, and have high potential impact. Collaboration is strongly encouraged where relevant.  Proposals should focus on benchmarking beef sustainability and identifying areas of improvement.

Primary Considerations

Original Scientific Research (in order of research funding priority): Project proposals limited to $100,000. 
  • Identification of significant economic and financial vulnerabilities of the cow-calf sector. Research outlining regional differences throughout the U.S. with financial/economic health benchmarking being prioritized. 
  • Quantification of the value of sustainable grazing lands with priority focused on:
    • tradeoffs and synergies between ecosystem services 
    • linkages between biodiversity, ecosystem function, and impacts of climate change
  • Exploratory research related to understanding transportation pathways of beef from harvest through point of sale, including intermediate steps. Considerations may include “food-mileage,” finished product inputs (packaging, labeling, etc.), and other supply chain logistics related to sustainability. 

existing research ASSESSMENT: literature reviews, meta-analysis, gap-analysis, modeling. proposals limited to $10,000.

  • Holistic understanding of the relationship between beef production and grassland systems
  • Understand the impact/role of fire on grazing lands and relationship with biogenic carbon cycle 
  • Barriers to producer adoption of advanced management and benchmarking tools in cow-calf and stocker sectors for demonstration of farm/ranch-level progress in sustainability 
  • Opportunities and challenges within the beef supply chain related to: 
    • Renewable energy sources 
    • Reduced water use intensity    
  • Articulate interrelationships of rural communities, farm labor availability, demographics, and animal welfare ·      
  • Assessment of urban encroachment impacts on sustainable working landscapes:  
    • Estimation of acreage removed from beef production systems and resulting socio-economic impacts from loss of biodiversity, rural community cohesion, and ecosystem services

Important Dates

  • Proposal submission date: June 30th, 2023
  • Funding notifications: Late Fall 2023

project timelines

  • FY-24 Original Scientific Research 
    • Can begin on or after January 1, 2024, with a project timeline up to two years and must end by May 31, 2026. 
  • FY-24 Existing Research Assessment
    • Project timeline up to one year. 

Submission Instructions

Proposals must meet the submission deadline and follow the guidelines in this RFP to be considered. Accepted projects will be funded (or funded in part) by the Beef Checkoff.   

Research objectives should be clearly defined. Proposals should clearly state their relevance and potential benefit to the beef industry. Leveraged funding through collaborations with industry, foundations, government, and other sources with matching funds is encouraged. In addition, collaboration with additional researchers or institutions is encouraged where appropriate.   

PIs may submit more than one proposal. A CV is not required. 

Questions related to this RFP should be directed to TJ Carlisle ([email protected]) and/or Charlotte Talbott ([email protected]

PROPOSALS MUST BE SUBMITTED BY June 30th, at 11:59 pm EST via the BeefGrants system.  

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, has moved to an online portal for managing the grants process and facilitating the submission and review of grant materials. All portal users will need to log in or set up an account to submit their proposal(s) at BeefGrants.

Proposal Outline

The following fields will be required in BeefGrants:

  • Applicant Information 
    • Organization Information
    • Researcher Information 
    • Institution Grant Administration Contact Details 
  • Application Summary 
    • Scientific Project Title and Lay Title
      • Titles must emphasize a focus on sustainability or relation to a specific pilar
    • Total cost of research 
    • Proposed start and end date
  • Project Details
    • Project Background & Hypothesis (~650 words maximum)
    • Objectives 
    • Design of experiment/materials and methods. 
    •  Describe the practical application of the research for use in the beef industry. 
  • Detailed Budget Table 
  • Other Sources of Support/Co-funding (optional) 
  • Supporting Documents/CV (optional)


Publication of all research is expected regardless of the outcome, however financial support for manuscript publication is considered separate from research contracts.  Once your project is completed and the final report is submitted, please reach out to NCBA staff to receive more information on the new publishing guidance. 


PIs should review completed Beef Sustainability projects to avoid submitting an idea that already has been covered. Completed project summaries are available here. We understand that PIs do not know the nature of ongoing research projects. However, a list of ongoing projects cannot be made available due to contracting sensitivities. Please understand this limitation and use your best judgment to submit proposals that are both novel and of high industry impact. 


Project deliverables will include, at minimum, a final technical report with a full listing of research results and implications, and abbreviated executive and lay summaries highlighting key points from the full technical report. Final technical reports must follow a standard outline and be thorough and interpretive in nature. Deliverables also will include a final statement outlining all project expenditures from the institution’s business office. Funds cannot be spent beyond the project end date established in the project contract. Deliverables will be due on or before the project end date established in the contract. 


Proposals will be reviewed by a panel of independent industry experts and applicants will be notified of funding decisions late fall 2023. Proposals will be evaluated for: clearly defined hypothesis and objectives, experimental design/methods, and convincing evidence that the proposed research will change the concepts, methods, or technologies that drive this field.


We are aware that academic institutions have financial obligations for administering the research grants awarded to their faculty members. However, overhead costs, principal investigator salaries, tuition, and equipment purchases will not be considered as part of the funds made available for this research.