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:
- Grants for business planning, adding value and increasing farm viability;
- Grants for on-farm research and demonstration projects that are mostly production oriented though some include marketing demonstration projects; and
- Grants for farm energy conservation, alternative energy, environmental protection/conservation and waste management.
Grants are never 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:
Kansas Department of Agriculture Funding for Organic Certification
Purpose: Reimburse producers for a portion of their annual organic certification renewal costs; can apply annually.
Funding levels: 75% reimbursement up to a maximum of $750
Information: Ag & Markets - 800-554-4501
website: www.ams.usda.gov/nop - National Organic Program information
Kansas Department of Agriculture: Kansas Organic Certification Cost-Share Program web page
USDA-SARE Sustainable Agriculture - Farmer Rancher Grant
Purpose: Support on-farm research demonstrations, marketing innovations, value adding activities and other projects.
Funding: capped at $15,000; capital improvements limited to $500 of total project cost; no match required
Annual deadline in December
Information: 612-626-3113 website: www.northcentralsare.org
USDA Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG)
Grants may be used to fund one of the following two activities:
- Develop business plans and feasibility studies (including marketing plans or other planning activities) needed to establish viable marketing opportunities for value-added products; or
- Acquire working capital to operate a value-added business venture or alliance. Working capital applications generally must be supported by an independent feasibility study as well as a business plan.
Grant funds may not be used for repair, acquisition, or construction of a building or facility or to purchase, rent or install fixed equipment. Cash and/or in-kind matching funds are required, must be at least equal to the amount of Federal funds awarded, and must be expended in advance, such that for each grant dollar advanced, an equal amount of match shall have been expended first.