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#31 Grant Opportunities for Farmers

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An increasing number of grant programs are available to farmers from federal or state sources each with specific objectives. Grants fall into the three general types:

  1. Grants for business planning, adding value and increasing farm viability
  2. Grants for on-farm research and demonstration projects that are mostly production oriented though some include marketing demonstration projects
  3. Grants for farm energy conservation, alternative energy, environmental protection/conservation and waste management

Grants are not available to start a farm and are not a reliable strategy for growing your business. Grants may enable you to expand a particular aspect of your business to make your operation more viable or provide funding to try a new practice on your farm.

Grants are highly competitive so apply only if the project you are proposing clearly meets the grantor’s objectives.  Always find out what kinds of projects were funded in the past to determine if your project is in line with what has been funded.

It takes significant time and effort to write a wining grant proposal. Instructions must be followed precisely. Grants often require a cash or in-kind match that must be documented in the budget you propose. Grants will not be considered if they arrive late after the deadline for application. Deadlines for application submission and instructions are generally announced once a year.  Most grants are not available on an ongoing basis.

Once you submit a grant, it may take 3 to 6 months to find out if your application was selected for funding.  If funded, it also takes time to finalize the contract. Generally you will not be reimbursed for money spent prior to receiving the signed contract. Grant contracts require that you write a report of the results and provide an accounting of how the money was spent; therefore, you must keep accurate records. Grants are also considered income for tax purposes.

Following is a list of some grant sources available for farm projects:

NEW YORK STATE SOURCES

Program Description Contact
New York State

Funding opportunities available for farmers in NYS

Note: Grants from NYS now require a cumbersome pre-qualification process: grantsgateway.ny.gov

http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/

518-457-7076

NYS Good Agriculture Practices/Good Handling Assistance Certification Program (GAP/GHP) The Department will pay up to $750 for a private firm or NYS Dept. of Agriculture audit, including water tests, to verify a farm’s food safety program. This certification applies to produce farms who sell to retail and wholesale buyers requiring GAP Certification.  Applications must be approved prior to the audit.  Funds are available on a first-come first-serve basis until the funds are depleted or December 31.

For more information:

http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/
rfps/GAP/2012/GAP-Certification.pdf

Link to application:

http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/
rfps/GAP/GAP-Application.pdf

Organic Certification Funding Assistance Organic farmers and processors are eligible for a reimbursement of 75% of their annual certification fee costs not to exceed $750. The certification must be conducted by an organization accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/
AP/Organic/reimbursement.html

 

NYS Specialty Crops Block Grants Program

Purpose Increase the competitiveness of specialty crops, encourage efficiency, partnerships, innovation, and new markets. The RFP includes many areas of focus including: packaging/labeling, environmental quality, distribution, education and outreach, food safety, food security, marketing and promotion, product development, plant health and international trade.
Eligibility Funding available to non-profits, for profits, individuals, educational institutions, and government; however, individuals and businesses must partner with others. Eligible crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture), herbs and spices.
Information

For questions, contact:  Mark McMullen, 518-457-4383

http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/
AP/slide/SpecialtyCrop.html

 

New Farmer Grant Fund

Purpose Assistance for beginning farmers
Eligibility Must be in the first 10 years of business with a significant ownership in a farm operation that generates at least $10,000 in sales.  .  Eligible projects include, but are not limited to, the purchase of machinery and equipment, supplies, or construction or improvement of physical structures used exclusively for agricultural purposes.
Funding Will fund up to $50,000 and the applicant must pay for half of the proposed project cost (50% cost share match).
Information Guidelines – http://esd.ny.gov/BusinessPrograms/
Data/NewFarmersGrantFund/
2015_Guidelines_NewFarmers.pdf
 The opportunity to apply is announced annually in October, applications are due in January and awards are announced in June.  Contracts follow and therefore it may be fall before a project can start.

 

NYS Dept. of Ag & Markets – Agriculture & Farmland Protection Projects

Purpose State assistance for the purchase of agricultural conservation easements (development rights) to permanently restrict development of valuable agricultural lands
Eligibility Counties or municipalities with approved Ag & Farmland Protection Plans – Farmers should contact county or town government if interested in the sale of development rights.  This application is submitted by the municipality and not the farmer.
Funding No cap; State provides 75% of the cost to acquire the easement; farmers or local government provides 25%
Information http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/
AP/agservices/farmprotect.html

 

NYS DEC Water Quality Improvement Projects

CHECK WITH COUNTY SOIL AND WATER DISTRICT REGARDING PROGRAMS AND FEDERAL FUNDS FOR PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION

Purpose Implement practices to improve water quality
Information

Contact your county SWCD for information on local funds; funding is not competitive but funds are limited and must meet criteria for water quality protection.  Here is a link to county offices:

http://www.nys-soilandwater.org/
contacts/county_offices.html

 

NYSERDA-New York State Energy Research and Development Authority

Loans, grants, incentives

Purpose NYSERDA offers technical assistance to identify energy efficiency measures for eligible farms and on-farm producers.
Information

Free Agriculture Energy Audits are available as well as technical assistance identifying other third party funding opportunities. There are three levels of audits available and separated by level of detail.

https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Agriculture-Energy-Audit

 

Federal Sources

USDA-SARE/Sustainable Agriculture – Farmer/Grower Grant

Purpose Support on-farm research demonstrations, marketing innovations, value adding activities and other projects.
Funding Level Capped at $15,000; capital improvements limited to $500 of total project cost; no match required
Annual deadline in late November
Information

802-656-0471

Website:  http://www.nesare.org/
Grants/Get-a-Grant/Farmer-Grant

Email:  nesare@uvm.edu

 

USDA Rural Development – Value Added Producer Grant

Purpose Encourage producers of commodities to add value to products to increase their value – for feasibility studies, business and marketing plans, studies to establish a new venture; and working capital for established ventures with a business plan.
Funding Level Planning grants up to $100,000 and working capital grants up to $300,000
Information

315-477-6400 – Scott Collins

http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/value-added-producer-grants/ny

 

USDA Rural Development – Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)

Purpose Help farmers and rural businesses make energy improvements and install renewable systems
Three programs available: Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance; Energy Systems/Energy Efficiency Improvement; and Feasibility Studies Grant Program.
Eligibility

Project must be located in an area with less than 50,000 inhabitants.

Funding for systems that generate energy from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal sources; and for energy efficiency improvements-upgrade equipment or processes.

Funding Level Varies with program (see info on website)
Information Website:  http://www.rd.usda.gov/
programs-services/rural-energy-america-program
-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency
Contact: Gary Pereira – 315-736-3316 or email gary.pereira@ny.usda.gov

 

USDA NRCS – Farm Bill Initiatives for Conservation Practices

Purpose The Farm Bill authorizes several new initiatives geared at land conservation and water quality protection.  There are 3 main funding areas:  Ag Management Assistance for water management or irrigation systems; Conservation Stewardship Program focused on protecting soil and water quality and energy; and EQIP – Environmental Quality Incentives program for practices that address natural resource concerns on land.  Under EQIP, there is a popular High Tunnel funding program – http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/
nrcs/detail/ny/programs/financial/eqip/
?cid=nrcs144p2_027074
Information

Find out what is available by contacting your county or regional USDA Service Center

http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/
nrcs/detail/national/programs/
?&cid=stelprdb1048817

315-477-6504

 

USDA FSA Rural Youth Loan
FSA makes loans to individual youths to establish and operate income-producing projects of modest size in connection with their participation in 4-H clubs, FFA and similar organizations. Each project must be part of an organized and supervised program of work designed to provide practical business and educational experience. The project must be planned and operated with the help of the organization adviser and produce sufficient income to repay the loan. A youth loan is available to young persons between the ages 10 and 20 years. The maximum loan amount is $5,000. Loan funds may be used to buy livestock, seed, equipment and supplies; buy, rent or repair tools and equipment, or pay operating expenses.

For an application, contact:
USDA FSA office that serves your county
http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=ny&agency=fsa

 

Other Sources

Fund a Farmer (a project of Food Animal Concerns Trust)

Purpose 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.
Funding Levels Up to $2,500
Information Full eligibility requirements, application, and program details available at www.fundafarmer.org/
apply-for-grant/grant-guidelines


 

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