Thursday, October 29, 2009

Don’t subtract processing, technology or innovation from your ag product; ADD VALUE!!!!

Have you ever considered producing an agricultural product on your farm in a non-traditional way? Have you thought about creating or expanding marketing opportunities for your ag products? What about utilizing some new technology or some on-farm renewable energies?

Any value-added effort towards generating new products, developing marketing opportunities and increasing producer income could easily provide new economic opportunities for your farming operation. A grant that could assist you in these areas would be USDA-Rural Development’s Value-Added Producers Grant Program. This grant is ideal for proposals that showcase creative uses of agricultural products. Individual farmers are eligible to apply, along with agriculture producer group, or majority-controlled producer-based business ventures. Funds can either be used for planning activities or working capital (but not both). The maximum amount awarded for a planning grant is $100,000 and the maximum for a working capital grant is $300,000. Applications are due on November 30, 2009 and more information can be found at

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants

Do you have an energy efficient idea for your farm or small business that could reduce energy use and result in financial savings for your operation? Maybe a project such as a grain dryer, or retrofitting lighting or insulation, maybe just adding solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro power and hydrogen-based sources, or replacing equipment with more efficiency units. Or perhaps looking into diesel irrigation motors, upgrading poultry houses, new HVAC systems or more efficient windows for rural small businesses. All these projects and probably several more that you could think up would meet the criteria to apply for this grant. The only other requirements are that the project must be located in a rural area, owned by a farmer, rancher or a small business, produce energy in the form of heart, electricity or fuel, and is technically feasible. If your energy efficient or renewable energy project meets these guidelines, then what are you waiting for? You are eligible to apply for a Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grant through USDA.

The REAP Grant was set up through Section 9007 of the 2008 Farm Bill and offers a grant, loan or grant/loan combination depending on the size of the project or the operations financial situation.

Grants are awarded on a competitive basis and are for up to 25% of total eligible project costs. Grants range from $2,500-$500,000 for renewable energy systems and between $1,500-$250,000 for energy efficiency improvements. Applications are being accepted by USDA on a continual basis. This past year Hoosier Farmers received over $3.8 million in REAP funds for 47 projects. For more additional information please check out USDA’s REAP website for the full program guidance.

Please note, grant funds cannot be used for the following items: Purchase land, Provide working capital, Research and Development, Residential improvements, Vehicles or Waste collections.

One item I would like to point out is that while this grant is a great opportunity for farmers to take advantage of, the application for this grant is long and time consuming. Many farmers hire a grant writer to assist them with their proposals. So if you are interested in these funds, start now and make sure to do your homework and research in order to bring those grant dollars into your energy efficient farming operation.

Friday, October 16, 2009

NCR-Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Grants

This great opportunity allows producers to apply for up to $6,000 to use Sustainable Agriculture practices and/or their own innovation ideas to solve problems on their farm and share their ideas with others. Sustainable Agriculture is farming practices that are ecologically sound, profitable and socially responsible stewardship. Some practices that may be used on your farm are: Integrated Pest Management, Rotational Grazing, Soil Erosion Control, Soil Quality Improvement, Water Quality Improvement, Cover Crops, Crop/Landscape Diversity, Nutrient Management, Agroforestry, Wildlife Preservation, Beneficial Insects, Poultry & Small Scale Livestock Production, Organic Agriculture and alternative weed control.

From this list of practices, it would be easy to find something that could be applicable on your farm. What I would suggest is to pick one and do your homework on that topic. Be sure to find some stats and data to support how this practice would bring benefits to your operation. Also, consider some partners you could involve in your project like extension, SWCD's, and non-profits. The review committee will probably want to see ways you could share information about your project with others; like through field days, websites, etc.

USDA has allocated $400,000 for the 2009 NCR-SARE Farmer & Rancher Grant. The North Central SARE grant is open to any farmer/rancher or group of famers/ranchers who farm or operate in the following 12 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

In my opinion it is a relatively easy application to fill out and is due on December 3, 2009. More information regarding this grant and the application can be found at:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why a Blog about Ag. Grants?

You may be asking yourself the question why anyone would bother blogging about agriculture grants. But, I'm guessing you found this blog because you were asking yourself if there are any resources out there that could help your farm or an agricultural organization you are a part of accomplish some specific project or goal. And now that you have stumbled onto this page you will be able to see where grants come into play; and it is my intent to utilize this blog to help you figure out how federal and foundation funding works.

Did you know USDA and other federal agencies offer grants, loans or sometimes grant-loan combinations to assist farmers with sustainable agriculture, bioenergy and value added projects? You can always find a list of open agriculture related grants by going to ISDA's Grant Webpage at:

It is my intent to use this blog as an additional resource for farmers and producers to come and learn about various funding topics like where to look on-line for funding, how to apply for funding, and lots of other tips, ideas and advice along the way. Each week I will highlight a recently opened grant at the bottom of this page and discuss all the details of the grant's criteria as well as giving some possible proposal ideas. I also plan to post polls to gather what additional information you would like to know about so I can cover those in future posts. Please feel free to post any comments or questions you may have as it is my hope that this blog can become a forum of information and sharing to help the agriculture community reach their funding goals.

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