Need help completing a grant application?
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute offers FREE grant advising. Contact Deirdre Birmingham, or 608-219-4279. She is a farmer, too, and can speak from direct experience. Get help finding an appropriate grant program and creating a plan to meet application requirements.
Current Open Grants:
Organic Certification Cost Share
The USDA has approximately $13 million for organic certification cost-share assistance, making certification more accessible for certified producers and handlers. Producers and handlers can apply for reimbursement for certification-related expenses incurred between Oct. 1, 2013 and Sept. 30, 2014. Payments will be up to 75 percent of certification costs, up to a maximum of $750 per certification. Application processes and deadlines differ by state.
Contact your state department of agriculture for details.
Wisconsin producers: DATCP will mail application packets in late July to every certified producer or processor in the state.
NOTE: Operations can receive a separate payment for each “scope” of certification they hold: crops, wild crops, livestock and handling.
Funding Opportunities – National
2014 Farm Bill Loan Programs
Information and updates to Farm Service Agency programs due to the 2014 Farm Bill.
2014 Farm Bill Conservation Funding
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): Still the best option to fix soil or water-related problems on the farm. Get technical assistance and guidance on hundreds of practices, conservation planning, or payments to help cover costs to build and install them. Plus, now it includes incentives for creating wildlife habitat.
Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP): Your best bet if you’ve already installed conservation practices and you’re interested in doing even more. CSP rewards what you’ve already done and gives you a chance to try something new, or maybe do something you’ve always thought about doing.
Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP): ACEP combines NRCS’ former Farm and Ranch Lands Protection, Grassland Reserve and Wetlands Reserve programs. Easements are the best way to ensure productive farmland stays farmland and that we protect sensitive land and habitat long-term.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service offers free assistance to help you access these programs.
Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities
A free 118-page book from SARE that lists funding opportunities from the federal government. It is only available online as a PDF download.
Chipotle Cultivate Foundation
The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation’s grant-making focuses on supporting family farms that are committed to sustainable farming practices; organizations that are working to develop an affordable, sustainable, pasture-based system of animal production; and organizations promoting better food through innovation or education. The foundation accepts grant proposals by invitation only but is eager to hear about organizations and projects via e-mail.
Farmers’ Guide to the Farm Service Agency Microloan Program
A publication of Farmers’ Legal Action Group, this guide will introduce you to the new Microloan program offered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA).
FSA Fact Sheet on Attaining Microloans
The USDA-Farm Service Agency (FSA) developed the Microloans Program to meet the financial needs of small family farms, including beginning and non-traditional farm operations. Microloans can be used for all approved operating expenses.
FSA Farm Loans
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) released this online publication. The guide, written in “plain language,” provides information about FSA’s farm loans and loan servicing options.
A project of Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), awards grants for projects that help family farmers transition to pasture-based systems, improve the marketing of their humane products, or more generally to enrich the conditions in which the farm animals are raised. FACT is increasing the amount of the maximum awards to $2,500 (up from $1,500 per grant).
Future Organic Farmer Grants
The CCOF Foundation, in collaboration with partner organizations UNFI Foundation, Driscoll’s, Organic Valley, and Bradmer Foods offer this grant opportunity in the spring. This grant is available for students attending college or vocational schools who are studying organic agriculture. Open to students of any age, attending school either full time or part time.
The Start2Farm site and program are a project of the National Agricultural Library in partnership with the American Farm Bureau Federation. Start2Farm is funded through a USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Beginning Farming and Ranching Development Program grant and was developed to assist people new to farming or ranching and those who have less than 10 years’ experience. Also offer: Grants for new farmers; Sample leases and contract; Federal funding programs for new farmers.
USDA offers new microloan program for small farms
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created a new program with loans up to $35,000 to help small farmers, disadvantaged farmers and military veterans seeking to start a farm who might otherwise have trouble qualifying for small loans from banks or other USDA loan programs. The loans can help farmers grow niche or organic crops to sell directly to ethnic and farmers markets, or contribute to community-supported agriculture programs. The loan also can cover the costs of seed, equipment, land rents and other expenses.
The new loan program also helps organic producers and small farmers who had been benefiting from grants and programs under the 2008 farm bill, which has not been extended by Congress. The application process is simpler in comparison with traditional farm loans. The interest rate will be around 4.9 percent, and the loan does not have to be repaid for seven years. Local Farm Service Agency office will handle applications.
Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG)
The USDA’s competitive grants program is designed to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities. Grants are available to help agricultural producers create new products, expand marketing opportunities, support further processing of existing products or goods, or to develop specialty and niche products. The maximum working capital grant is $200,000; the maximum planning grant is $75,000. Funding priority is given to socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers or ranchers, and to small- to medium-sized family farms, or farmer/rancher cooperatives.
Local Producer Loan Program
Whole Foods Market offers low-interest loans to independent local farmers and food artisans. Farmers can apply for amounts between $1,000 and $100,000 (maximum $25,000 for start-ups) at fixed interest rates (currently between 5% and 9%). Loan amounts cannot exceed 80% of total project costs. The Producer Loan Program reinforces Whole Foods’ commitment to environmental stewardship, while expanding the availability of high-quality local products for its customers.
General Opportunities by Region and State
SARE is a program providing grants to researchers, agricultural educators, farmers and ranchers, and students in the United States. Farmer project grant requests are generally due in the late fall.
The timeline for the Research and Educations grants will be:
August – Call for Preproposals
Late October – Preproposals Due
Late February – Preproposal Status Notification
April – Full Proposals Due
Late July – Funding Decisions
Fall – Funds Available to Recipient
Angelic Organics Learning Center’s (AOLC’s) Technical Assistance Program (TAP) pairs farmers with consultants to provide targeted expertise and assistance in the areas of land acquisition, business management, production and marketing. AOLC will pay 90% of the consultant fees up to a $500 maximum.
The Leopold Center offers competitive and renewable grants for those in the state of Iowa. Check their website for upcoming grants or contact them with your ideas. Grants are agriculture focused and cover a wide range of topics including: research, buy local, and policy. For more information, email email@example.com, or call (515) 294-3711.
Organic Transition Cost Share
Farmers in Minnesota who are transitioning to organic (not currently certified) can receive funding through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to pay part of the cost to work with a USDA accredited organic certifying agency during the transition period, which typically lasts three years. In addition, farmers can request reimbursement for soil testing costs and registration fees to attend an organic education conference in Minnesota or a neighboring state. Farmers transitioning to organic can receive a 75 percent rebate of these eligible costs. The maximum payment is $750 per year for three years or until they achieve organic certification, whichever comes first.
Transition Cost Share Program application forms and a set of Frequently Asked Questions are available here or by calling 651-201-6012.
Sustainable Agriculture Loan Program
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture provides loans to help farmers adopt sustainable practices.
Ag. Utilization Research Institute (AURI)
AURI provides expertise and assistance to increase value, demand and market opportunities for agriculturally-based products. AURI is helping to add value to Minnesota agriculture. Applicants are required to match contributions and work with AURI personnel in developing the value added project. For more information call (800) 279-5010.
MN Dept of Ag. Sustainable Ag. Demonstration Grant Program (MDA)
This program funds research/demonstration of farming practices that will promote environmental stewardship/conservation of resources and that improve profitability and quality of life on farms and in rural areas. In this round of funding, only proposals that specifically target on-farm research and demonstration projects for cropping systems, soil fertility and energy related projects will be considered. We strongly encourage applicants to work closely with technical advisors (Extension, SWCD, NRCS, consultants, etc.) to design and carry out the project. This grant program is currently open for applications until Jan. 29, 2014. Click here for details.
Minnesota Department of Ag. Conservation Funding Guide
Minnesota is a top state for privately owned farmland set aside or managed to meet conservation goals. Conservation practices on farms can reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, restore wildlife habitat and more. Conservation practices cost money. Fortunately, there are programs that help many farmers pay for conservation. The MN Dept. of Ag. Conservation Funding Guide helps farmers learn about these ever-changing programs – some offered by the MDA but most by other agencies or organizations.
FARRMS Grants to Grow
Grants to Grow may be used for sustainable additions to farms, transitions to organic farming practices, and other garden and farm projects that meet program guidelines. North Dakota producers may apply for grants of up to $1,000 and grant-and-loan combinations of up to $10,000.
Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin–Producers First Program
Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin is a comprehensive economic development program designed to create models for local food systems by working with farmers and food buyers to develop new markets for Wisconsin grown food products. This program accepts proposals from individuals, groups, businesses and organizations involved in Wisconsin agriculture, food processing, food distribution, food warehousing, retail food establishments or agricultural tourism sites.
5 Steps to Writing a Farm Grant offers ideas to help farmers find money to pursue improvements on the farm. Written by Lisa Kivirist, MOSES Rural Women’s Project Coordinator, for HobbyFarms.com.