Grants to start a farm are available through various state and federal funding programs. Financial assistance may be available for a variety of new farm expenses. Grants can be used to cover costs of renewable energy, expanding and conserving farmland, constructing and renovating farming facilities, equipment, and housing and hiring staff. In addition, some grants provide funds for education and training for new farmers. Each grant opportunity needs to be thoroughly researched for qualifications and application information before you can apply.
Write a business plan for your farm. A business plan is essential because your approval for grant funding is based in part on a review of the contents in your plan. The plan needs to be well written, detailed and professional. Explain how you'll manage your farm, its purpose, and any services and products you'll provide to consumers. Include a mission statement, description and short-term and long-term goals for your farm. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers detailed instructions and online training to help you compose a winning business plan (see Resources).
Search for state government grants for farms. Contact your state's Department of Agriculture for information on grants. In addition, your state's small business administration may be helpful in obtaining grant money to start a farm. Find out the restrictions, scope, application steps and eligibility requirements for state grant programs in which you are interested.
Research federal grant programs through the Catalog of Federal Assistance website. This is the federal government's online catalog of all small business grants. Search for community service or rural-based grants. Look into federal grant programs such as the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program and the Farmland Protection Program. These programs strive to conserve farmland from being used for non-agricultural purposes and educate new farmers by awarding grants.
Write a grant proposal. Hire an experienced grant writer if needed. This may increase your chances of being approved for a grant.
Complete your grant application and submit it. Include all requested items such as financial records, articles of incorporation, deed to farmland property, application and business plan. Failure to provide all the required documents may result in a denial of your application or a delay.
Be patient. Government programs often receive thousands of grant applications at one time. Getting approved for a grant can take much longer than obtaining a loan. Expect your application to be reviewed several times before a decision is made.
Be aware of Internet scams that ask for money in exchange for grant information. State and federal funding information can be found on the official websites for free.
- Federal Grants Wire: Beginning Farmer and Ranchers Development Program
- "The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finnances, Crops and Staff and Making a Profit"; Richard Wiswall; 2009
- Business Grant Process: The Process of Obtaining a Business Grant
- Grants for New Business
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