FUNDS FOR FARMERS
The lack of a farm bill has affected funding opportunities for farmers. Funding no longer exists for Organic Certification Cost Share, Value Added Producer Grants, and the Beginning Farmer/Rancher Program. The list below describes remaining opportunities for funding.
Opportunities for additional funding might be forthcoming in the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act (S.679 and H.R.1414). MOSES is working with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to promote passage of this bill. We are also working on reintroducing these funding opportunities in the 2013 farm bill.
We encourage you to contact your Congressional Representatives and Senators in support of funding opportunities to support organic and sustainable farming.
Please note: The Funds for Farmers Fact Sheet will be updated when the farm bill passes! For now, we have removed this fact sheet from the list of MOSES Organic Fact Sheets.
National Opportunities | Current Opportunities by Region and State
USDA announces general sign-up for Conservation Reserve Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will conduct a four-week general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), beginning May 20 and ending on June 14, 2013. Currently, about 27 million acres are enrolled in CRP, which is a voluntary program available to agricultural producers to help them safeguard environmentally sensitive land. Producers that are accepted in the sign-up can receive cost-share assistance to plant long-term, resource-conserving covers and receive an annual rental payment for the length of the contract (10-15 years). Producers also are encouraged to look into CRP's other enrollment opportunities offered on a continuous, non-competitive, sign-up basis and that often provide additional financial assistance.
USDA offers new microloan program for small farms
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created a new program with loans up to $35,000 to help small farmers, disadvantaged farmers and military veterans seeking to start a farm who might otherwise have trouble qualifying for small loans from banks or other USDA loan programs.
The loans can help farmers grow niche or organic crops to sell directly to ethnic and farmers markets, or contribute to community-supported agriculture programs.
The loan also can cover the costs of seed, equipment, land rents and other expenses.
The new loan program also helps organic producers and small farmers who had been benefiting from grants and programs under the 2008 farm bill, which has not been extended by Congress. The application process is simpler in comparison with traditional farm loans. The interest rate will be around 4.9 percent, and the loan does not have to be repaid for seven years. Local Farm Service Agency office will handle applications. Read about more FSA loan options.
USDA expected to announce cut-off date for Conservation Stewardship Program
Recent legislation provides funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program, which was inadvertently left out of the government spending bill last October. This program rewards farmers and ranchers for good conservation measures currently in place, plus provides cost-share funds for additional conservation activities. CSP is a continuous sign-up program with a cut-off date for applications to be considered during a particular fiscal year. That date has yet to be announced, but is expected to be in May.
CSP applications are managed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The NRCS website has a self-screening checklist to help you decide if it's worth your time to apply for CSP. The site also has a CSP fact sheet and other information about the program, a downloadable CSP application, and a map of NRCS offices where you can submit your application.
USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that offers financial and technical help to assist eligible participants install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land. Any farmer engaged in livestock or crop production on eligible land may apply for EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland; rangeland; pasture; private non-industrial forestland; and other farm or ranch lands, as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture. Approximately two of every five applicants in the statewide signups will be successful in securing an EQIP contract. Since the signups for most practices are handled on a county basis, individual county results may vary from this statewide average.
Your Guide to FSA Farm Loans
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) released this online publication. The guide, written in “plain language," provides information about FSA’s farm loans and loan servicing options.
FACT opens Fund-a-Farmer Project
Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) is accepting grant applications for its Fund-a-Farmer Project. Grants of up to $1,500 will be awarded for projects that improve the welfare of farm animals. Grants are available to help farmers:
transition to pasture-based systems;
2. improve the marketing of their humane products;
more generally enrich the conditions in which farm animals are raised.
Independent family farmers who raise pigs, broiler chickens, laying hens, dairy cows and/or beef cattle are eligible to apply for any of the three types of grants. Projects involving goats and sheep are only eligible for marketing grants. View guidelines or apply online by May 1, 2013 for awards made in August 2013.
SARE offers a free 118-page book, Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities, listing funding opportunities from the federal government. It is only available online as a PDF download.
Current Opportunities by Region and State
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) - North Central Region
SARE is a program providing grants to researchers, agricultural educators, farmers and ranchers, and students in the United States. Farmer project grant requests are generally due in the late fall.
The University of Illinois Extension's webpage for small farms lists current local grant opportunities.
Angelic Organics Learning Center’s (AOLC’s) Technical Assistance Program (TAP) pairs farmers with consultants to provide targeted expertise and assistance in the areas of land acquisition, business management, production and marketing. AOLC will pay 90% of the consultant fees up to a $500 maximum.
The Leopold Center offers competitive and
renewable grants for those in the state of Iowa. Check their website for upcoming grants or contact them with
your ideas. Grants are agriculture focused and
cover a wide range of topics including: research,
buy local, and policy. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (515)
Sustainable Agriculture Loan Program
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture provides loans to help farmers adopt sustainable practices.
assistance to increase
value, demand and
products. AURI is
helping to add value to
match contributions and work with AURI
personnel in developing the value added
project. For more information call (800) 279-5010.
MN Dept of Ag. Sustainable Ag. Demonstration Grant Program (MDA)
This program funds research/demonstration of farming practices that will
promote environmental stewardship/conservation of resources and that
improve profitability and quality of life on farms and in rural areas.
The grant program has up to $30,000 available. In this round of
funding, only proposals that specifically target on-farm research
and demonstration projects for cropping systems, soil fertility
and energy related projects will be considered. We strongly
encourage applicants to work closely with technical advisors (Extension,
SWCD, NRCS, consultants, etc.) to design and carry out the project.
Minnesota Department of Ag. Conservation Funding Guide
Minnesota is a top state for privately owned farmland set aside or managed to meet conservation goals. Conservation practices on farms can reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, restore wildlife habitat and more.
Conservation practices cost money. Fortunately, there are programs that help many farmers pay for conservation. The MN Dept. of Ag. Conservation Funding Guide helps farmers learn about these ever-changing programs - some offered by the MDA but most by other agencies or organizations.
Wisconsin Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Producers First program
Producers First provides Wisconsin food producers one-on-one technical assistance from a consultant of their choosing.
Examples of technical assistance provided by Producers First include but are not limited to: accounting and financial organization, business planning, food safety, grant writing assistance, legal services, market development, packaging and label development, whole farm planning, etc. Producers First will pay up to $3,000 to a consultant for providing this assistance. A matching payment of at least 10% is required from producers.
5 Steps to Writing a Farm Grant offers ideas to help farmers find money to pursue improvements on the farm. Written by Lisa Kivirist, MOSES Rural Women's Project Coordinator, for HobbyFarms.com.