Grant Funding for Beginning Farmers

woman holds a box of ripe tomatoes inside a greenhouse filled with tomato plants

Beginning farmers have a lot to think about, and we know financing can be a stressful part of your job. If you’ve been wondering how you’re going to make improvements and amplify the sustainability of your farm, look no further than these resources. Use this rundown of the best federal opportunities for grant funding for beginning farmers to get started. And, of course, you can always reach out to us to talk through your ideas!

Pssst…still looking for land? Check out these resources:

Your 2-minute Briefing on USDA Farm Loans

How to Get a Farm Ownership Loan with No Down Payment

Tips on Securing Funding for a New Farm

Environmental Quality Incentives Program

We honestly can’t stop talking about this wonderful program! From fencing to irrigation for crops and livestock to hoop houses, EQIP has something for everyone. The goal of this program is to improve on-farm conservation. That means if you want to adopt conservation farming practices, EQIP has you covered. EQIP is all about improving your farm management so your farm will keep producing for years to come.

EQIP provides incentive payments to implement specific practices on your farm. While it’s not exactly the same as a grant, these incentive payments will cover some (or sometimes all!) of your costs in implementing the practices. Beginning farmers qualify for increased and advanced payments under this program, meaning you’ll get more money sooner to help you get started.

Rural Energy for America Program

REAP supports renewable energy installation and efficiency updates on your farm. It provides grant funding perfect for beginning farmers looking to cut down their electric bill. Types of projects vary from adding solar panels to your barn to updating your refrigeration to a more efficient system. Projects on any part of the farm qualify, whether producing or processing your harvest.

Keep in mind that grants through this program can only cover 25% of the total cost of the project. You can also apply for a guaranteed loan for 50% of the total cost through REAP, which will reduce your out-of-pocket expenses to 25%. Pay attention to tax credits for going renewable in your state – you might be able to cover even more of your costs through local programs!

Value-Added Producer Grant

Once you have your production system locked in, VAPG is an excellent grant funding opportunity for beginning farmers who want to expand their marketing capacity and offerings. This grant helps farmers post-harvest, specifically in the processing and marketing phases of getting their product to the consumer. If you have an idea to turn your lavender into soap, your tomatoes in sauce, or your grapes into wine, you need to submit to VAPG! This grant can also support local market expansion efforts to get your products into the hands of customers.

Beginning farmers are eligible for priority status under this grant funding program. You can submit a grant for planning activities or working capital associated with your idea. Planning grants may be up to $75,000 and working capital to implement your idea can be up to $250,000. You’ll need to provide a written narrative of your proposal and match 100% of the grant funds received.

While there are dozens of grants out there for beginning farmers, these tried and true federal programs will take some of the financial strain out of your early farming years. Take our eligibility quiz to determine whether you and your farm can apply for these grant funding opportunities for beginning farmers!

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