In the U.S., a number of grants are available to disabled farmers. While some grants are specified for the disabled, others are for farmers in general, regardless of disability. A primary source of farm grants is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). While some programs fund only cooperatives or organizations, some funding opportunities are available to individual farmers.
Funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the Agrability Grant is awarded and administered through land-grant universities working jointly with nonprofit disability organizations. The average award amount is $180,000 for a period of up to four years. Although funding is not awarded to individuals, the funds can be used for projects directly training disabled farmers and other agriculture workers. In fact, since the initial funding in 1991, more than 12,000 farmers in 30 states have received on-farm assistance from this program. Specifications and application deadlines are announced annually. (See Resources.)
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Grants
Funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Grant is awarded regionally through the North Central, Northeast, Southern and Western SARE programs. Application is open to all farm producers regardless of disability. Various programs are supported, including a producer grant program that awards funds to farmers individually, or working in groups, to develop sustainable agriculture programs. Awards range from $1,000 to $15,0000, but project specifications and award amounts vary by region. Specifications and application deadlines are announced annually. (See Resources.)
Value-Added Producer Grant
Funded by USDA Rural Development, the Value-Added Producer Grant is awarded to new or existing farm producers, including individual farmers, groups or cooperatives. Application is open to all farm producers regardless of disability. Eligible projects are designed to develop value-added agricultural-based products, such as organic foods or renewable energy. Funding is available for working capital grants to a maximum of $300,000 and for planning grants to a maximum of $100,000. Specifications and application deadlines are announced annually. (See Resources.)
Jennifer Meade is an “information specialist” with more than 20 years of administrative experience including eight years in research and communications. Her education includes undergraduate studies in government and geography with graduate studies in communications, regional analysis and public policy. Meade currently writes from her home in Kentucky.