According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) half of all current farmers are likely to retire in the next decade. This means the opportunities for grants and funding for beginner farmers will increase as programs are developed to address the changing needs of a new generation.
Taking Over a Family Farm
As parents retire, siblings often differ on whether to continue the farm or to sell it. States offer funding sources, including grants, in some cases, to fund the family operation through the next generation. This allows one sibling to continue the operation while buying out the interests of the other siblings and heirs. Sources to find these opportunities include your Small Business Administration and County Extension offices.
Value-Added Grants for Beginning Farms
Beginning farmers should explore the potential of Value-Added grants. Instead of just raising blackberries to sell, consider applying for a grant for the equipment necessary to make jam from the blackberries. These grants are awarded on a competitive basis and many types of grants are available through the USDA NIFA.
In particular, grant funding is available for beginning farmers who are interested in transitioning from normal agriculture to organic. Funding is available on a competitive basis from the USDA NIFA Organic Transitions Program.
Research and Development Grants
Beginning farmers who want to incorporate new and innovative methods into their farming operations can apply for funding through the USDA NIFA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE). Science is constantly striving to develop methods to conserve water and soil and improve agricultural as a whole. Technical training and grants for implementation of new methods are issued to local entities and individuals on a competitive basis.
Options to Grants are Available for Beginning Farmers
To secure funds for your beginning operation you may also want to contact your local USDA Farm Services Agency. This agency has a number of programs available, including guaranteed loans through a commercial bank. This guarantee will provide you with a lower interest rate and better terms than you can secure on your own as a beginning farmer.