Check out Small Farm Grants

smallfarmThe government has set up programs to fund small farms in the United States. Small farm grants can assist farmers as they purchase land and livestock so that they can get a good head start in their new business. Government grants for small farms can mean a lot to farmers who may otherwise be unable to start a farming business.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the governing body in charge of federal small farm grants. They provide a variety of resources for farmers. The first place that the USDA recommends farmers contact for funding is their State Department of Agriculture. A list of state offices can be accessed at the USDA Risk Management Agency website. From there you can find links to state Beginning Farmer Loan Programs. States with programs include:

  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Texas

Another resource is the National Council of State Agriculture Finance Programs site. There you can find out information about programs for the government grants for small farms.

Loan Programs

Some states offer special loan programs for farmers who need financial assistance. The state pays for part of the loan through a local lender. In addition a number of states offer specialized loans for:

  • Value-added processing enterprises
  • Aquaculture
  • Horticulture
  • Producers of poultry and livestock
  • Cooperative development
  • Conservation
  • Irrigation
  • Environmental protection

Local USDA Farm Service Agencies offer guaranteed and direct loan programs with attractive interest rates for new and experienced farmers.

One example is the Aggie Bond Beginning Farm Loan Program. These reduced interest state loans help new farmers to purchase everything they need to get started. Lenders benefit from federally-tax exempt interest income from bonds created by the state. That way they can afford to offer low-interest loans. The program began in 1986 and has expanded to where it is now.

State Projects

Here are a few of the numerous state programs that provide government grants for small farms:

Alabama

AADA Well Pilot Project

This program offers loans at 3% interest to Alabama poultry producers. Loans help with producers drilling wells for their poultry operations to be used as an alternative source of water. Loans can only fund 80% of the total project cost. The maximum funding available is $12,000.

Indiana

Capital Access Program (CAP)

Farmers who need financing for operating lines of credit, equipment and livestock can apply for loans through this program. The borrower contributes a percentage of the loan along with the lender and IEDC into a reserve fund for CAP loans.

Montana

Rural Assistance Loan Program

This program provides loans up to $35,000 for small farmers funded with rural rehabilitation money. Terms vary from 1-10 years. They can be used for a variety of purposes including real estate, livestock and operating expenses.

Nebraska

Governor’s Agricultural Excellence Awards

This program began in 1997 and awards $25,000 each to a top 4-H Club and top FFA Chapter by the Nebraska governor. It pays for the recipients to improve agricultural educational programs. No tax dollars are used for this program which is funded by NIFA discretionary funds.

North Dakota

Beginning Farmer Loan Program (Series II)

The state funds this young farmers program that assists with beginning land ownership. Up to 60 percent is funded when farmers obtain 30 percent from the FSA’s down-payments loan program. The farmer is responsible for the remaining 10 percent.

South Dakota

Cooperative Stock Guarantee Program

Farmers can purchase cooperative shares with loans funded with this program. Loans up to $20,000 are guaranteed at 50 percent. The program began in 1998.

Wyoming

State Loan and Investment Board

The Mineral Trust Fund provides $275 million for Wyoming farmers to fund first mortgage real estate loans. Farm loans are offered at reduced rates for 10 years. The program began in 1921.

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program offers many small farm grants. They divide the US into four regions: Western, Southern, Northeast and North Central. You can find out which small farm grants are offered in your region at the website.

Farmers in North Central SARE can apply for the Farmer Rancher Grant Program. Producers can apply for the grant to improve agricultural sustainability.  It is a competitive grant that is awarded to 50 farmers each year. The projects funded may not last more than 25 months. There are three grant types. Individuals can receive up to $7500. Partners can receive up to $15,000. Groups can receive up to $25,000.

SARE provides a webinar that explains the grant application process. You can also find information about projects that have already been funded by SARE which can assist you in developing your own proposal.

Starting a farming business does not have to mean a financial struggle. Small farm grants are available throughout the country to give assistance to those who need it.

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