Federally Funded Grants for US Farmers

There are many federally funded grant programs across the county.  It’s sad to say that the USDA website is fairly hard to navigate and the information can be confusing.  There are several bureaucracies that are responsible for administering the funding and most programs are at the state or county level. Below is a compiled list for fiscal year 2014 federally funded grants (this list does not include loans or training programs–though there are many good ones out there) with details and links to each. We have also provided a list of some state level funding opportunities (scroll to bottom).

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

  • The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) is to solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).” Applications for specialty crop projects must be submitted to the appropriate State Department of Agriculture to be considered for funding (not all states offer this grant). To learn how to apply for SCBGP funding or see if funding is available in your state, contact your State Department of Agriculture Project Coordinator.

Conservation Innovation Grants

  • Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) is a voluntary program intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production. Conservation Innovation Grants offers two programmatic exceptions intended to encourage the participation of beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers, and Indian Tribes, in CIG. Currently available in KansasNebraskaGeorgiaWyoming, Iowa, ArkansasVermontSouth CarolinaVirginiaNew Hampshire, and OregonSponsoring Organization: NRCS Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Producer Grant Program is a competitive grants program for farmers and ranchers who want to explore sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration, and education projects. Sponsoring Organization: SARE Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education

Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG)

  • The primary objective of the VAPG program is to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of bio-based value-added products. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the end goals of this program. You may receive priority if you are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative, or are proposing a mid-tier value chain, as defined in the Program Regulation. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis. This program is currently closed, but will likely be available again next year.  
  • The REAP Renewable Energy System and Energy Efficiency Improvement Grant and Loan Guarantee provides financial assistance to agriculture producers and rural small business to purchase, install, and construct renewable energy systems; make energy efficiency improvements to non-residential buildings and facilities; use renewable technologies that reduce energy consumption; and participate in energy audits, renewable energy development assistance, and feasibility studies. Sponsoring Organization: Rural Development

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program

  • Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) is an education, training, technical assistance, and outreach program designed to help farmers, ranchers, and managers of non-industrial private forest land – specifically those aiming to start farming and those who have been farming or ranching for 10 or fewer years. It is managed by the National Institutes of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). NIFA will competitively award more than $19 million in grants to organizations conducting programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers. Priority will be given to projects that are partnerships and collaborations led by or including non-governmental, community-based, or school-based agricultural educational organizations. All applicants are required to provide funds or in-kind support from non-federal sources in an amount that is at least equal to 25 percent of the federal funds requested. Applications are due June 12, 2014.

Organic Certification Cost Share Program

  • Organic crop and livestock producers in these states can be reimbursed as much as 75 percent of their certification costs from October 1, 2013, through September 30, 2014, up to a maximum of $750. This program is not competitive; $1,352,850 has already been provided to states for farmers and ranchers.  Sponsoring Organization:AMS Agricultural Marketing Service and USDA United States Department of Agriculture
  • Formerly known as the Small, Minority Producer Grant Program, the primary objective of theSSDPG program is to provide technical assistance to small, socially-disadvantaged agricultural producers through eligible cooperatives and associations of cooperatives.  Sponsoring Organization: Rural Development
  • Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) provides assistance to eligible producers for installation of conservation practices on organic or agricultural operations transitioning to organic production. Sponsoring Organization: NRCS Natural Resources Conservation Service 

Supplemental and Alternative Crops Competitive Grants Program

  • Under the Supplemental and Alternative Crops Competitive (SACC) Grants Program, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture will support the development of canola as a viable supplemental and alternative crop in the United States. The goal of the SACC program is to significantly increase crop production and/or acreage by developing and testing of superior germplasm, improving methods of planting, cultivation, and harvesting, and transferring new knowledge to producers (via Extension) as soon as practicable. Extension, education, and communication activities related to the research areas above must be addressed in the proposal. Applications may be submitted by colleges and universities, other Federal agencies, and private sector entities for grants up to $210,000.  Applications are due by May 8, 2014.


Some Additional State Level Grants:

Oklahoma Agriculture Enhancement and Diversification Program Farm Diversification Grant

  • The Oklahoma Agriculture Enhancement and Diversification Program provides funds to encourage farm diversification. Projects should deal with the diversification of a family farm, ranch, or agritourism venue to non-traditional crops or livestock, on-farm processing of agricultural commodities, or development of an agritourism venue that will promote access to a new market. Grants $2,500 or less require no matching funds. Grants $2,501 – $5,000 require some level of cash or in-kind match in funds. Grants $5,001 – $10,000 require a dollar for dollar cash match. Application deadlines are April 1, July 1, and October 1, 2014.

Kentucky Small Scale Farm Grant Program

  • The KSU Center for Sustainability of Farms and Families Small Scale Farm Grant Program has been developed to support expansion of certain types of agriculture in Kentucky. The grants are available for small scale farmers who are motivated to improve their farming operations or improve the marketability of their products. The grants support three priority areas: certified organic farming, value-added enterprise development, and aquaculture farming and marketing. For 2014, grant evaluation dates are as follows: February 1, April 1, June 1, August 1, 2014.

New Jersey Soil and Water Grants

  • The Soil and Water Grants “help fund up to 50 percent of the costs of approved soil and water conservation projects on farms enrolled in permanent or eight-year farmland preservation programs. Sponsoring Organization: New Jersey Department of Agriculture

Massachusetts Matching Enterprise Grants for Agriculture Program 

  • The Matching Enterprise Grants for Agriculture Program (MEGA) seeks to assist new and beginning farm businesses with start up or   expansion costs. The Program offers technical and business planning assistance to support the special needs of beginning farmers. Sponsoring Organization: Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources

CT Farm Reinvestment Grant

  • The Farm Reinvestment Grant is a competitive matching grant program for diversification or expansion of existing farm family businesses. These grants will be awarded on the basis of the quality of the business plan that is a part of the application. The farmer applicant must match or exceed the amount of the grant being requested. Sponsoring Organization: Connecticut Department of Agriculture
  • The Farm Transition Grant Program (FTG) is a competitive matching grant program. Producers and agriculture cooperatives may apply for this grant and may receive up to $49,999 in matching funds. A producer and an agricultural cooperative match must be at least 50% and may not include in-kind services. Sponsoring Organization: Connecticut Department of Agriculture

New Hampshire Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

  • The New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food offers eligible New Hampshire organizations the opportunity to apply to the New Hampshire Specialty Crops Grant Program to conduct projects that benefit New Hampshire Specialty Crops. A total of approximately $200,000 is expected to be available for the program. Applications must be submitted by May 23, 2014.
  • The New Jersey Department of Agriculture/New Jersey Wine Industry Advisory Council (NJWIAC) awards grants for wine industry projects to address research, development and promotion of the New Jersey Wines Industry. Sponsoring Organization: New Jersey Department of Agriculture 

Missouri Local Foods Matching Grant Program

  • Up to $5,000 in grant funding is available to urban and small rural area organizations assisting underserved areas increase fresh food access in rural and urban areas through the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Local Foods Matching Grant Program. The program supports the development of production infrastructure, direct distribution venues, and education programs, as well as workforce development and expanding understanding of the importance of agriculture. Grant applications are considered as received while funding remains, or through June 30, 2014, whichever occurs first.
  • This program “provides grants to young (18 to 45 years old) agricultural producers who are starting or expanding agricultural businesses in Texas.” Sponsoring Organization: Texas Department of Agriculture

New Hampshire Agricultural Nutrient Management Grant Program

  • The primary purpose of the grants are to assist agricultural land and livestock owners with efforts to minimize adverse effects to waters of the state by better managing agricultural nutrients including commercial fertilizers, animal manures and agricultural composts. Applicants may apply for cost assistance of up to $2,500. Sponsoring Organization: New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food

Western SARE Graduate Student Grants in Sustainable Agriculture

  • The Administrative Council of the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program has issued a call for proposals for graduate student grants in sustainable agriculture. Grants up to $25,000 are available. Masters or Ph.D. students enrolled full time at accredited colleges or universities in the Western region and working with a Major Professor are eligible to apply. Projects must conduct both research and education. Proposals are due by May 14, 2014.

North Central Region SARE Graduate Student Grant Program

  • The Graduate Student Grant Program provides funds to students enrolled in graduate programs or in veterinary medicine residence programs at accredited colleges or universities in the North Central Region who are exploring some aspect of sustainable agriculture as part of their educational program. In 2014, $150,000 will be available to fund about 15 grant projects. Individual grants are for $10,000 total, and can fund projects lasting up to 36 months. The North Central region includes Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Proposals are due by May 6, 2014.

Southern SARE Graduate Student Grants

  • The Southern Region USDA Program on Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) is requesting proposals for Graduate Student research projects that address issues of sustainable agriculture of current and potential importance to the Southern region and the nation. This grant offers a one-time project maximum of $11,000. The Southern SARE program will only consider proposals submitted, and to be conducted, by graduate students (Master’s and PhD) enrolled at an accredited college or university in the Southern region. Proposal deadline is May 5, 2014.

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