Small Farm Government Grants

With more and more of our agriculture shifting to mega farms and mass production, it is comforting to know that our government does still recognize the importance of the small farm. While most support and funding comes in the form of loans rather than small farm grants, there are a few grants for specific purposes such as research programs, biotechnology, pest management research and so forth. What is more difficult to find is small farm startup grants but if you look hard enough, even those are available.

  • Government Grants. The main source for looking for government grants is www.grants.gov – if you click “browse by category” and then “agriculture” you will see a listing of small farm government grants available. It lists the agency as well as the close date for each grant. These are not just small farm grants but worth reviewing regularly for additions.

  • Sustainable Agriculture. The growing shift to responsible farming has prompted programs to advance this important research.

    • Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) http://www.sare.org/index.htm offers business planning, financing options as well as five different types of grants:

      • Sustainable Community Innovation

      • Producer Grants

      • Professional Development Grants

      • Research and Education Grants

      • On Farm Research/Partnership

    • National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) lists funding information for sustainable agriculture on their website: http://www.attra.ncat.org/funding/

  • Loan Programs. Although these are not free money, they can help the small farmer with their need for livestock, equipment, more land and constructing and improving buildings.

  • Beginner Farmer Information. Some states have programs that provide assistance specifically to beginning farmers. Search in your state to see what may be available. A few examples:

  • Other Sites. A number of states and universities have websites providing a wealth of information about farming. One unique site is a Women’s Agricultural Network provided by the University of Vermont Extension http://www.uvm.edu/wagn/. There are also sites that deal with agricultural disaster assistance. One of these is the Farm Aid organization http://www.farmaid.org/.

So if the lure of a freshly plowed field or the bleating of sheep has hooked you on farming, but finances are making city life seem a bit safer, don’t give up your dream! Seek help! It is out there!

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