Raising goats for profit is a rewarding experience, but funding the purchase of livestock and housing for your herd may present a stumbling block. However, grants for goat farming are available from many sources. Unlike loans, grants do not have to be repaid. Shep Eubanks, cooperative extension director in Holmes County, Florida, says the government is the best place to look for funding for a goat farming operation. According to Eubanks, the United States Department of Agriculture has grants for beginning enterprises as well as existing goat farms and even grants for those farmers or ranchers the USDA deems “socially disadvantaged.” He also cautions that grants are very competitive and that writing a good grant proposal is the key to successful funding.
Writing a goat farming grant proposal is the first step in the grant application process. In order to succeed in the highly competitive grant market, the proposal is everything. Without a good proposal, your hopes for funding are nil. While there are grant writers willing to work on your goat-farming grant, their fees can be prohibitive. An alternative to hiring a grant writer is learning to do the work yourself. Courses are available online, as well as at schools and colleges throughout the country.
The old saying, "you can’t get something for nothing," holds true with grants. Matching funds, anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of the grant’s value, may be required for funding a goat farm grant. In-kind work, like building a goat shed, can serve as a match. Be sure to check with the grant source to determine restrictions on matching funds.
The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program is offered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), an arm of the USDA. This program is offered to individuals and has funding for animal production, which includes goat farming. Whether you have dairy or meat goats, this resource could work for you.
Socially Disadvantaged Farmers
Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Competitive Grants Program is a group funding resource available for nonprofits or academic institutions. Entities that are chosen to receive these grants, which range from $100,000 to $300,000, distribute them locally to finance acquisition, operations and retention of farms and ranches for socially disadvantaged individuals. Watch local newspapers for announcements or talk to your local extension agent to see what is available in your area.
If you own a farm and have less than 10 years experience as a farmer or rancher, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program may be the answer to your goat farming grant aspirations. Because the Census Bureau reported in 2007 that the average age of farmers in the United States was 57, the federal government decided to fund this program, through the USDA, to lend a helping hand to novice farmers and ranchers. Contact you local agricultural agent for details on the application process.
Those with small farms can benefit by exploring grants offered by NIFA through the department’s association with coordinators in each state who work to provide grant and guaranteed loan funding to modest goat farming operations, among others. Contact the agricultural agent in your county to discuss options for this operational source of ready money.
Cheryl Withrow is a writer in Michigan’s untamed Upper Peninsula. Following a teaching career she served alternately as editor of the "Washington County News" and the "Geneva County Reaper," and as associate editor of "Bay Life" magazine. Withrow holds a Bachelor of Science in business with a major in accountancy from Wright State University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Ohio University.