How to Get USDA Grants for Farmers – The farming population in the United States of America is aging. A lot of young generations who belong to farming families are finding it profitable and easier to sell their farms to real estate developers. The US government recognizes the importance of farmers and their farmlands and has put special emphasis on helping farmers start their agricultural careers.
The government dedicates resources and grants to assist small farms particularly limited resource farms that produce low monetary value in sales to support their families who are living near the national poverty level. Fortunately, The US Department of Agriculture has designed a wide array of programs to assist financially challenged farmers and ranchers in America and encourage the younger generation to get into farming. This guide will throw light on different USDA grants for farmers and how you can be eligible for them.
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Highlights of this Post
Who Qualifies For USDA Grants For Farmers?
There are a wide array of USDA grants for agriculture and farmers and they may apply to different groups of people. Fortunately, there are chances that you can be eligible for one of the several grants irrespective of the type of farming you are practicing. Generally, farmers who are owning or operating farmland and have some existing production can be good candidates for USDA grants.
You can be eligible for the USDA programs if you belong to one of the following categories.
- Urban farmer,
- Vertical or indoor farmer
- A corporation
- Nonprofit organization
- Partnership or sole proprietor.
- Historically Underserved Farmers
USDA acknowledges a lot of historically underserved farmers in its grant programs with specific benefits. Historically underserved farmers or ranchers who meet the following categories can be eligible for USDA grants:
- Farmers and ranchers of color
- Low-income farmers and ranchers
- Indigenous farmers and ranchers
- Beginning ranchers or farmers in the first 10 years of production
- Veteran farmers and ranchers.
You can use the USDA grant funding on a variety of land types for instance forest, prairie, cropped acreage, wetland etc. For instance, you can use USDA crop production grants on your cropped acreage. Similarly, you can use USDA reserve payments or conservation easements for your wetlands.
Type Of USDA Grants
USDA Grants for Veterans
The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking a vital step to show their commitment towards meatpacking workers, grocery store workers, farmworkers by recognizing that they play a very important role in America’s food system.
Tom Vilsack the Agriculture Secretary has announced about 15 types of grants that offer help to veterans, female farmers,black farmers and many more. They mainly receive funding from the Farm and Food Workers Relief Grant Program also known as FFWR. Organizations are selected through their proven track records with the grocery workers, meatpacking workers and farmworkers.
It also sees their strong partnership with other serving organizations and also the ability to provide the service in certain geographic areas nationwide. However, USDA is also committed to work to improve the nation’s essential agriculture along with the food workers. They have also offered opportunities for relief during the Covid-19 pandemic. The grant recipients are also offered relieved payments at that challenging time.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administers the program and offers the funds to the farmworkers and meatpacking workers for relief. There are a lot of workers who were directly affected because of the pandemic. The funding is also set into three pilot programs to offer help to the grocery workers during the pandemic. The organization is also preparing a system that will help in outreaching the grocery workers, meatpacking workers and farm workers. If they apply for these grants they will be receiving around $600 as payments. The USDA anticipates the beneficiaries that will help with the funds to the recipients but remember the workers needed to produce valid ID of employment to receive the payment.
|United Ways of California
|United Migrant Opportunity Services/ UMOS, Inc
|UFCW Charity Foundation, Inc
|Todec Legal Center Perris
|Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture
|National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association
|National Center For Farmworker Health
|La Cooperativa Campesina de California
|Hispanic Federation, Inc.
|Community Resources and Housing Development Corporation
|Catholic Charities USA
|Alianza Nacional de Campesina, Inc
USDA Grants for Disabled Farmers
The combined expertise and deviation of the Cooperative Extension System and also other nonprofit disability organizations has helped in creating the AgrAbility program for the Disabled Farmers. AgrAbility has already helped thousands of determined individuals to become successful in agriculture. However, AgrAbility received their first funding in the year 1991 and the bill was recommended in 1990. Every year competitive projects are awarded to the Cooperative Extension Services that has also collaborated with other non profit disability organizations to help out the disabled farmers and their families. Apart from the state grant projects you can also find additional support from the national AgrAbility project that has involved Goodwill and Purdue universities. The national partners have also provided professional training and technical assistance to the state projects by producing resource material and conduction information as required in the project.
The AgrAbility program also demonstrates the ability on how to extend services and also to respond to the local requirements as it makes a lot of difference collaboratively. Another important thing is that they also illustrate the benefits by offering expanding boundaries, providing opportunities and many more. Apart from that the AgrAbility program services are mainly offered through the state projects.
USDA Grants for Organic Farmers
The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) also offers pandemic assistance to the organic farmers that will help them in covering certification along with the education expenses. But remember you must be into certified organic or transitioning to organic. USDA will also be making around $20 million available for the Organic and New Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP) to help out the organic farmers.
USDA Grants for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers
You can also find USDA grants for the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (SDFRs). If you belong to that specific group you will be offered grants by the USDA to help you out. The farmers are also offered help who are American Indian, Pacific Island, Hispanic or Lation, Alaska Native etc. Apart from that there are also female women who can qualify for the grant.
USDA Grants for Solar Farms
There is also an USDA Grants program for solar farms. In this program it offered loan financing and other funding to the agricultural producers and other small business owners for getting or improving emergency efficiency through renewable energy systems. The agricultural producers can apply for this energy efficient equipment and also get system loans from the USDA regarding processing and production.
USDA Grants for Organic Farming
There are also USDA Grants for Organic Farming offering help to the organic farmers, ranchers and food processors who have imposed a standard regarding organic fiber and food production. The grant helps in covering all the standards including soil and water quality, livestock practices, food additives, pest control and many more. There is a grant program OCCSP that offers cost share assistance to handlers and producers regarding agriculture products to optation certification that is administered by the National Organic Program (NOP). The certified operation will also be receiving around 50 percent of the certification cost during the year and it will not be exceeded by $500.
Eligibility Criteria And Documents Required For USDA Farmer Grants
Following is the list of general eligibility criteria that will help you to qualify for USDA Grants for farmers.
- Applicants should be a citizen of the United States or permanent residents and have income within a particular threshold
- Must not be a delinquent on any government debt
- Must prove you are operating or have an existing agriculture-based business based in the United States of America. Your farm or ranch should be engaged in the United States.
- Must use the grant award for a particular purpose mentioned by the program and demonstrate a robust need for grant funding
- All the taxes must be correct and in good standing and the agribusiness must not have any outstanding tax liens or legal judgments unless exempt.
- Applicants must prove they are currently operating an active farm or ranch.
The specific documentation that you need to submit may vary depending on the USDA program you are applying to; however, the following is the list of the commonly requested official documents to apply for USDA farm grants.
- Personal identification documents like state ID, passport, Social Security card
- Detailed personal financial information such as tax return forms, bank statements, recent pay stubs
- A full year of business bank statements
- Balance sheet, profit and loss statement and cash flow statement.
- Tax ID or EIN IRS letter for reference
- Details of accounts payable and receivable
- Business debt schedule (if applicable)
- Most recent business tax return
- Business certificate along with permits, licenses, legal business documents, articles of incorporation etcetera.
- Complete business plan for instance a detailed description of the type of business you are running, the structure, the service or products, the marketing plan, business management and financial projections.
- A detailed budget showing how you are planning to use the grant for your farm or ranch
- A completed application or resume
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How To Apply For USDA Grants For Farmers?
The application procedure for USDA is simple. To apply for a grant, you need to complete an application and submit it to the USDA Grants Administration office in your city or town.
After reviewing your application, the Grants Administration office will contact you to discuss the grant details and check your eligibility. You can find information about how to apply for a grant on the USDA Grants Administration website.
Steps To Apply For USDA Grants for Farmers
To get started on applying for a grant from the USDA, please follow these steps:
- Complete an online application form (available at https://www.usda.gov/topics/farming/grants-and-loans),
- Upload all of your required paperwork (e.g., Personal information, Address Proof, Income Proof, tax forms),
- Answer all of the questions on the application Form,
- Click “submit”,
- Wait for instructions from the Grants Administration office, and receive your grant award!
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Why Does USDA Provide Grant Opportunities To Farmers?
The US Department of Agriculture is soliciting project proposals and grant funding to address the needs of farmers and ranchers. Following are the program priorities of USDA grants for farmers
- Assist veteran farmers and ranchers or socially disadvantaged farmers in owning as well as operating successful farms and ranches
- Introduce agriculture-associated information and details to veteran farmers and ranchers including socially advantaged farmers through technical assistance techniques and innovative outreach
- Build relationships between the prospective and current farmers and ranchers particularly veteran farmers and socially disadvantaged farmers and USDA state, local, regional as well as national offices.
- Improve the participation of veteran farmers and ranchers and socially disadvantaged farmers in USDA grants and programs.
- Introduce agricultural education for beginning farmers and ranchers and socially disadvantaged youth in poverty communities and rural areas.
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List of Top USDA Grants and Funding for Farmers
Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)
Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) has combined the former Farmland Protection and Ranch, Wetland Reserve Programs and Grass Reserve programs of the NRCS.
Easement is one of the best ways to make sure that the productive farmland remains farmland and sensitive land and habitat must be protected for a long time. Apart from that the Natural Resources Conservation Service also offers you free assistance to get access to these programs.
Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
When you have conservation practices installed and you are willing to add more. Conservation Stewardship Program generally rewards you for what you have already done and also offers you an opportunity to try something or maybe something you have always wanted to do.
Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP)
Environment Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) is one of the best options to solve soil and water issues on the farm. EQIP offers you technical assistance and advice on conservation planning, construction costs, practices and installation costs. Apart from that they also offer incentives for creating wildlife habitats.
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education
Sustainable Agriculture Research Education (SARE) is a program that offers USDA grants to the farmers, students, agricultural educations, female farmers and ranchers that are in the United States. However, the USDA grants for farmers’ applications for farmer projects are already running late.
USDA Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grants
You can also find USDA Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grants. If you belong to that specific group you will be offered grants by the USDA to help you out. Only farmers who are American Indian, Pacific Island, Hispanic or Latino, and Alaska Native are offered help. Apart from that there are also female women who can qualify for the grant.
The Rural Energy for America program provides grants and loan programs to eligible farmers and ranchers who wish to pursue energy efficiency projects or renewable energy projects. The grant and loan program funds different projects for instance retrofitting your irrigation system, improving the greenhouse or installing solar panels.
Value-added producers fund projects that help them to cover the cost of rental, personnel and marketing expenses and are important to grow and expand value-added production on your farm.
The Value Added Producer includes organic recertification, local food production, and altering the state of raw commodities by making jams and jelly products. Farmers who want to improve their Agribusiness or wish to sell their products at farmers’ markets can apply for this grant.
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, an important division of USDA manages the beginning farmer and rancher development program. It funds both nonprofit organizations and government programs through grant funding and enables farmers and ranchers to grow or start their farming businesses.
The funds are provided particularly for socially advantaged farmers who are generally subjected to racial prejudice for instance Hispanics, African Americans, Native Americans, farm workers, limited resource farmers etc. who wish to have their own farms.
Individuals who are producers of agriculturally important animals can get funding opportunities through the USDA Small Business Innovation Research program that supports ranchers economically to provide an inexpensive and safe supply of animal protein to consumers. The funding helps in conserving resources and in reducing their production expenses.
The USDA recently launched a new Centers for Community Prosperity initiative to address the difficulties of economic development in poverty communities in America.
The target audience of the program include socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, historically underserved producers and beginning farmers with limited resources.
Nonprofit organizations, community-based institutions, tribal entities and institutions of higher education can apply for this initiative if their projects focus on education outreach, and training in agriculture, Agribusiness, conservation, and forestry.
The USDA Farm Service Agency provides a wide array of guaranteed and direct loans to help farmers of all sizes for different purposes. A lot of these loans are targeted particularly at the beginning or limited resource farmers and ranchers. Following is the list of affordable loans that are awarded to eligible farmers and ranchers.
- Youth Loans: Young folks aged 10 to 20 who are interested in starting income by participating in agricultural projects can get help through rural youth loans by FSA. The loans help young people to get business education and acquire experience to pursue larger agricultural projects once they become adults. The projects are supervised and managed through organizations like FFA and 4-H clubs.
- Direct Operating Loans: These loans are available to pay daily operating expenses of their farm for instance purchasing seeds, fertilizers, paying the farm workers, maintaining or purchasing equipment etc.
- Farm Ownership Loans: The USDA Farm Service Agency provides farm ownership loans for repairing or constructing farm buildings for purchasing land or fire-making necessary farm improvements.
The USDA Farm Service Agency also serves socially disadvantaged as well as beginning farmers to purchase farmland and provides a program for joint FSA private lender financing. Besides, FSA also provides microloans for farmers that involve less paperwork and less stringent eligibility criteria.
The USDA Rural Development Office helps farmers with funding opportunities to buy, renovate, build and repair labored housing with the help of the Labor Farm Housing Grant and Loan Program.
Qualified applicants are farm association, individual farmers, American Indian tribes, government offices, family farm corporations, farmworker associations and nonprofit organizations.
While the grant fundings are provided to eligible tribes’ government offices and nonprofits, loans are available to everyone you need. The funding through grants and loans can pay for housing for instance childcare centers.
A lot of farmers can find financial assistance and grants outside U.S. Department of Agriculture. For instance, state government offices also provide assistance to eligible farmers and ranchers.
For instance, the Texas Department of Agriculture has designed the Young Farmer Grant Program through which farmers aged 18 to 46 years can get grants ranging between $5000 to $20,000 so that they can pay for feed, livestock, operating costs, basic expenses etc.
People who want to start their farms can contact the local and state agriculture department offices and find out the type of assistance and grants that they can apply for.
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Additional Funding Options For Farmers
The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service helps farmers to get a wealth of information and details regarding sustainable farming as well as learn an extensive list of funding and grants available for different purposes. They have a useful online tool that provides information about assistance programs that you can qualify for.
The organization provides seminars and workshops throughout the country including online webinars. The online site also features a sustainable producer spotlight where you can notice what works for you and what doesn’t to become successful organic farmers and ranchers.
Kiva Zip is a crowdfunding project that offers loans to the farmers at 0 percent interest rate without charging any fees. However, the borrower needs to invite a few family members and friends to lend the project so the borrower can trust that the borrower has the capability to repay the loan back. Once a percentage of loan is paid, Kiva Zip wil be promoting the loans in its wide network to one million lenders.
Students who are wishing to study organic agriculture in any vocational or undergraduate program can apply for the $2,500 USDA grants for farmers under the CCOF foundation. K-8 teachers can also apply for the $1000 grants to fund organic farming education projects.
Fund A Farmer Project
Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) also offers USDA grants for farmers for projects that can help the family farmer to switch to pasture-based systems and also improve humane marketing of their agricultural products. It can also be used to enrich the condition where animals of farms are raised.
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The FruitGuys Community Fund was founded in the year 2012 offering USDA grants to the farmers up to $5,000. The funds are mainly offered to the nonprofits and small farms for sustainability projects that can have a positive effect on the environment, agricultural diversity and local food systems. The fund evolved from the FruitGuys Farm Steward program and has been donated to the funds for small farm sustainability projects that were running from the year 2008 to 2011.
The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation grant award mainly aims to support the family farms that are engaged towards sustainable agricultural practices and to those organizations who are striving to develop sustainable, affordable and pasture based animal production systems.
Barnraiser is a crowdfunding site that supports all types of projects that are related to agriculture and sustainable food. If you have a 70 percent success rate in your project, Barnraise will help you by providing grants to farmers from the funds raised that you can use for purchasing items like wood burning oven, poultry processing equipment, new fence and a walking tractor.
First of all you should understand that the whole foods market generally offers low interest loans to the food artisan and other local independent farmers. The farmers can apply for amounts that are between $1000 to $100,000. However, the maximum amount that is offered for start-ups is $25,000.
The interest rates are fixed varying between 5 percent to 9 percent. Also remember that the amount of loans cannot exceed more than 80 percent of the total project cost. The program mainly reinforces the whole foods commitment towards environment stewardship that will help in expanding the availability of high quality local products to its available customers.
While a lot of agricultural assistance programs and funding are aimed to support farms and farmers it is also necessary to remember that ranchers and their ranches can also become beneficiaries of the government assistance program by USDA.
The Organic Farming Research Foundation helps ranches in the United States of America bring ecologically friendly and natural processes to their production folks. The projects include finding suitable solutions to financial problems that plague small organic ranchers and helping to explore new types of grazing conditions or feeding options.
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Like any other business agriculture comes with unique expenses and challenges at the beginning. A lot of farmers turn to government grants and loans to start up a farm. While loans come with repayments with interest grants on the other hand are free monetary assistance that do not require repayment. Even though the eligibility criteria to get USDA grants for farmers and ranchers can be competitive, the funding can help farmers in the initial stages and meet their expenses. There are plenty of federal funding opportunities for new and seasoned farmers and you can apply for the aforementioned USDA programs to cover your expenses.
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You can learn more about the available grants and assistance programs in United States of America at our Get Government Grants’ section today. Our resources help people in their difficult times and help them attain financial stability.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I get help from the USDA grants?
You should know that the USDA grants offer millions of dollars to the farmers. The amount can be used by the farmers to pay their mortgage, purchase equipment or for other expenses related to their farm.
What are the different USDA funding opportunities for farmers?
USDA funding opportunities for farmers includes Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), USDA Programs for Organic Farmers, Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).
How much amount is offered by the FruitGuys Community Fund?
The FruitGuys Community Fund offers grants to the farmers up to $5,000. They mainly offer these funds to small farms and nonprofits for sustainability projects.