Saturday, October 16, 2010

Money for Beginning Farmers

One of the things that agricultural agencies and interest groups in America are hoping to nuture are new farmers.  With the growing interest in setting up small farms, artisinal farm products, like cheese, and the growing market for organic and herbal crops and heritage meat and milk production, more people are interested in starting their own farms, but have no idea of how to finance them.  Help is out there.

Start out with this great Beginning Farmers website.  It has lots of information on starting farming, urban farming, permaculture, small animal husbandry and more.  And its  funding resources page gets you started on grants and loans.  If you are a regular reader to this blog, you have already guessed that loans make up the vast majority of the financial help listed--because they aren't rip-off artists, and reflect reality.  And if you just want money for general start-up costs, like buying the land and equipment, most of that will probably come from loans.  The Beginning Farmers will show you all that as well.  But even within the confines of reality, there are some outright grants in there.

Another good source is this page from the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.  It gives some grant contracts, tips on successful grant writing in agriculture, and links to other forms of financing on the left-hand side of the page.

One grant source is value-added producer grants.  These are given to cooperatives, as well as individual farmers and ranchers for: "planning activities and for working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy."  "Value added agricultural products" are those that are further processed after harvesting.  Also available are grants for renewable energy systems and energy audits.

Another is the site run by the Sustainable Agriculture and Resource Education program.  These are for research, marketing, and sustainable innovations. 

Don't forget the programs that may be run by the Agriculture Department in your own state.  This is a chart of state programs. 

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