Value-Added Producer Grants Now Open for Applications

The USDA is making available approximately $30 million in funding for agricultural producers, including beginning farmers, to implement value-added enterprises.  The information about applying for the grant is available in the Notice of Funding Opportunity but a few highlights:

  • The maximum award per grant is $250,000 for working capital and $75,000 for planning activities;
  • The grant requires a one-to-one match.  In other words, for every dollar of grant funds, the applicant must provide a dollar in matching funds;
  • Funding priorities are available for beginning, socially disadvantaged, operators of small and medium-sized farms and ranches structured as family farms or ranches, farmer or rancher cooperatives, and projects proposing to develop a Mid-Tier Value Chain (definitions can be found here);
  • Applications are due July 7, 2015 with an anticipated start date of September 30, 2015; and
  • Projects can be up to 36 months, depending upon complexity.

We’ve previously discussed value added grants; however, the Notice of Funding Opportunity is for fiscal year 2015.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us — we’re always here to help!

Thinking about grant funding? Multiple requests for applications released

Are you a small farmer, looking at expanding your operation to local schools or to a more regional focus? Or perhaps expanding into a farmers market?  Maybe you need some assistance to stay on the land in the face of financial crisis and natural disasters.  Well, read on, as there are multiple grant opportunities currently available.

Farm to School Grant Program:

Funded through the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, up to $6 million in funding is available via four different types of grants.  Planning grants are to assist schools is starting a farm to school program whereas implementation grants are to assist in expanding current farm to school programs.  Support grants are for non-profit, tribal nations, state and local entities, and producers to assist schools with further developing and providing broad-reaching support services to farm to school initiatives.  Finally, training grants are intended to support trainings that strengthen farm to school supply chains, or trainings that provide technical assistance in the area of local procurement, food safety, culinary education, and/or integration of agriculture-based curriculum.

Grant applications are due May 20, 2015 and training grant letter of intent is due April 30, 2015.

Farmers Market Promotion Program and Local Food Promotion Program:

Funded through the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the Farmers Market Promotion Program and Local Food Promotion Program provide a total of $26.6 million, equally divided between the program.  The Farmers Market program is aimed at supporting direct marketing avenues, such as farmers markets, community supported agricultural programs, roadside stands, and agri-tourism.  The Local Food Promotion Program, on the other hand, is aimed at supporting intermediary supply chain activities for businesses that process, distribute, aggregate, and store locally or regionally produced food.

Grant applications for each program are due on May 14, 2015.  You may submit an application to each grant but, if your proposal is accepted for both grants, you may only be funded through one program.

If you are interested, grant writing workshops in every state are scheduled.

Farm Aid:

For non-governmental grant funding, Farm Aid’s annual grants to promote family farm system are open.  Letters of inquiry are due May 1, 2015 and fully proposals by August 1, 2015.  Grants are for non-profit organizations, from $3,000 to $10,000, that focus upon one of three areas: (1) Growing the Good Food Movement; (2) Helping Farmers Thrive; and (3) Taking Action to Change the System.  Growing the Good Food Movement supports program building local and regional food systems, direct marketing, and value-added markets.  Helping Farmers Thrive focuses upon projects for getting started on the land, accessing new markets, transitioning to more sustainable farming practices, production of renewable fuels, and staying on the land in face of financial crisis and natural disasters.  Finally, Taking Action to Change the System funds organizations promoting fair farm policies and grassroots organizing campaigns.

What Federal Programs Are Available?

We are frequently asked what federal programs are available for farmers and ranchers.  Now, with the updated publication Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities: A Guide to Federal Programs for Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry, Entrepreneurship, Conservation, Food Systems, and Community Development a resource exists that lists available programs, eligibility requirements, funding parameters, contact information, and when applicable, project examples.

The guide lists the approximately 70 programs available, from grants, loans, to technical assistance and information and educational resources.

While the guide lists the programs in alphabetical order, the programs are also listed by category.  Categories include:

  • Economic Development for Farms, Small Businesses and Communities
  • Farm Loans
  • Insurance and Risk Management
  • Natural Resources Conservation and Management
  • Nutrition and Consumer Food Access
  • Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation
  • Research and Outreach
  • Value Added and Marketing Innovations

The guide is available for free online or a paper copy is available for a $3 handling fee.

The guide is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was produced in cooperation with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). USDA agencies and programs that provided major support for the publication include Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE), U.S. Forest Service; and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Farm Credit Services of America Grants

Farm Credit Services of America offers grants to projects and organizations that make a difference in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, or Wyoming.  The grants are focused upon:

  • Agriculture Education — this is education for youth, high school, university, general public, or producers specific to agriculture
  • Young and Beginning Producers — funding for projects or initiatives for the next generation of agriculture
  • Hunger and Nutrition — support for addressing food and hunger issues, enabling food production and providing a food source for needed populations and geographical areas

The maximum grant is $2,000.  Applications are considered quarterly; thus, applications for the current grant period are due December 31, 2014.  Applications may be made online here.

Feel free to take a look at the FCSA grant program — it may be just the grant you or your operation could need!

SARE Farmer/Rancher Grants Due November 20

SARE, or Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, annual Farmer/Rancher grants are due on November 20th.

The grants are for farmers and ranchers to fund innovative ideas to advance sustainable agriculture.  An individual farmer or rancher can receive up to $7,500, two farmers or ranchers working together can receive up to $15,000, and three or more farmers or ranchers can receive up to $22,500 in grant funding.

To gain an idea of the types of projects funded, see here.  If you have any questions or want some assistance with putting together a grant proposal, feel free to contact us!

FACT’s Fund-a-Farmer now accepting grant applications

Courtesy of the Missouri Beginning Farmer Blog, the Food Animal Concerns Trust Fund-A-Farmer project is now accepting applications for projects that will improve the welfare of animals on a farmer’s operation.

FACT funds three types of projects to help: (1) transition to pasture-based systems; (2) improve marketing of humanely-produced products; or (3)  more generally enrich the conditions in which the operation’s farm animals are raised.

Working independent family farms that raise pigs, broiler chickens, laying hens, dairy cows, and/or beef cattle are eligible to apply for any of the three grant types listed above.  Those operations that raise goats and sheep are eligible only for marketing grants.

The grants will be up to $2,500 and awarded to at least 15 farmers.  Applications are due May 1, 2014 and grants will be awarded in August, 2014.  If you have questions, FACT has provided the grant guidelines here.  You may also sign up for a webinar to discuss the grant application process.

Value Added Producer Grants Available for Beginning Farmers

As the Center for Rural Affairs reminded me, USDA Value Added Producer Grants are now available.  What do you need to know about the grants?

First, the goals of the grant program is to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income.  Beginning farmers, socially-disadvantaged farmers, and a small to mid-sized farm structured as a family farm (along with a few other categories) may receive priority in funding.

Approximately $10.5 million is currently available.  More funds may come available should additional funds be allocated to the program.  Grants are awarded on a competitive basis.  The maximum grant amount is $75,000 for planning grants and $200,000 for working capital grants.

Today, December 16th at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time, the USDA will hold a webinar about the program.  The webinar will be recorded so it is likely that it will be available for viewing at a later date.

More information on the process for applying for the planning or working capital grants is here.  Included in that information are templates for applying for a planning or working capital grant.  If you’d like to read the announcement of funding in the Federal Register, you may do so here.  A detailed fact sheet from the Center for Rural Affairs, including resources for help in completing the grant application, is here.  The deadline for applications is February 24, 2014.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.  We’re always happy to help.