Many producers ask our team what types of projects can be funded by various government grant programs. The short answer is that there are tons of project ideas that are competitive for federal grant funding. We wrote this quick guide to explore just a few options, bucketed across three areas below.
Stay tuned for future posts as we will be putting out a series of case studies to explore project ideas in greater depth!
1. Tackle a production challenge
The USDA-SARE program (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education) provides grant funding to farmers and ranchers to undertake research projects oriented at their farm’s economic, environmental and human sustainability. This gives producers many options when applying for SARE grants. There’s only one expectation: you must be committed to reporting your research results to SARE and hosting a field day or some kind of outreach effort to engage other producers in your efforts.
That makes the SARE program a great option if you’re looking to improve some aspect of production on your land. The below examples provide just a few of the ideas you might pursue with a SARE grant:
- Test out an innovative pest deterrent, such as a laser scarecrow to deter birds
- Integrate new crops into your rotation, either to access new markets or improve your soil health (or, better yet, do both at the same time!)
- Optimize your livestock management system (see this example project)
2. Expand market opportunities
With the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) offered by the USDA Rural Development office, producers can receive funding to either a) assess the feasibility of expanding into a new market or product or b) deploy working capital to implement a new market or product opportunity. Examples of successful past projects include:
- Expand the geographic scope of your market, to new states or even beyond the US
- Improve your branding and distribution efforts for your existing agricultural products
- Add value to your products by processing them into something else: turning grapes into wine, turning fruit into jam or juice, converting grains or pulses into livestock feed or bedding, or transforming soybeans into biofuel
3. Address a resource concern on the land you own or manage
The USDA-NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) offers billions of dollars in financial assistance each year to help producers and landowners better steward their land. NRCS programs like EQIP and CSP deliver needed financial and technical assistance to producers to address priority resource concerns. These resource concerns are unique to your land, though each NRCS state and county office will have its own unique ranking of priority funding areas. Some examples of EQIP-funded projects include:
- Invest in and expand wildlife habitat on the farm
- Improve nutrient and pest management for better air and water quality
- Invest in infrastructure like terraces and grassed waterways to control water on the farm and reduce erosion
- Transition to new grazing practices that are oriented towards soil health and water quality improvement
- Invest in manure management facilities
We hope that you’re feeling inspired by the fact that there are so many projects eligible for government grant funding. Spend a few minutes jotting down your ideas for projects you want to implement on your farm, then sign up for FarmRaise to see which programs you’re eligible for and then book a consultation with our team to get planning!