Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Seen those Grant Advertisements? Here's a word of Caution!

I’m sure you have seen those commercials on TV or signs along the side of the road telling you how easy it is to get a grant to buy your home, start a business or go back to school. And I always tend to caution people about those types of advertisements because.… it could be a scam. My general rule of thumb is that legitimate federal grants will be posted on federal government websites that end in .gov. If you are looking at federal grants online on websites that end in .com I would air on the side of caution and further research the grant on secure government sites.

If you are looking for foundation funding those sites could end in .org or .com and again I would further investigate the company or organizations the foundation is associated with. I would look at who the previous grantees were and research if they did receive their funds and finish their proposed project successfully to ensure they are justifiable.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Where can I find federal grants?

I get asked that question a lot.

I’m guessing you’ve probably read in the newspaper or heard on the news that some organization received a grant, and you’re wondering how they knew to apply for the grant? Where did they find it? How did they know they were even eligible?

One of the best websites I send people to is All federal grants are posted on this website. (And if you apply for federal funding online you can do that on this website as well.) From this website you can search for grants by federal agency, and from an agriculture standpoint I would strongly suggest the US Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Department of Energy. These three agencies have programs that could directly relate to the ag community through bioenergy or conservation projects. You can also search for grants by key word like education, biomass, marketing, etc. Granted these searches may bring in a much broader selection of grants, it is still a function to consider using on the website.

Grant announcements are posted just about everyday of the year, so it’s a site worth bookmarking and coming back to check on often. Or, you could select to use their RSS feeder which is a function that allows you to have grants e-mailed to you directly based on the search criteria you select; either by federal agency or category (keyword).

Once you run a search the various grants will be listed by dates, names, and federal agency. You can click on the name of the grant and be taken to that grants synopsis page. This synopsis page is a quick informational reference on the grant. Telling you when it’s due, how much is available, who is eligible to apply and a brief description of what the grant funds are to be used for. From there, if you think it sounds like the grant would be a good fit, there will be a link on the bottom of the page that will take you to the full RFP (Request for Proposals). This document will contain all the nitty gritty details about the grant, and what all is required for the application. But, the synopsis page is a great place to start and will give you a good over view of the grant program.

I have posted some other helpful websites on this blog over in the left hand column but for right now go ahead and give a try. Since the webpage ends in .gov you know it is a secure site and contains factual information. Let me know what you think. Was it easy? Do you have questions about the synopsis page and what all is listed there? I’d be happy to explain any of the terms, so feel free to post a comment.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Research for Specialty Crops

USDA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative is a grant opportunity for research projects that focus on plant breeding, genetics, threats from pests and diseases; including pollinators; efforts to improve production, new technology, and food safety hazards in production and processing.
USDA has $47.3 million to award projects that address the critical needs of the specialty crop industry by developing and disseminating science-based tools to address needs of specific crops. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops; including floriculture.

Eligible Applicants include; colleges and universities, research institutions, private organizations or corporations, state agricultural experiment stations, individuals or groups consisting of 2 or more of the above mentioned. Applications are due January 14, 2010 and please note there is a matching requirement. More information can be found at

Tip: Priority is given to proposals that are multi state and communicate results to producers and the public. For your proposal think about whom you could partner with and ways to perform outreach to others.

This grant should not be confused with USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant which is available for state departments of agriculture to apply for to carry out more marketing, distribution and nutrition type grants with not-for-profits. If you have any questions regarding either of these grants please feel free to post a comment below as I would welcome discussion on this blog.

Also, always remember to check out ISDA’s website for all the latest ag related grants

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Foundations as a Funding Source

Many people who start to look for grants or financial resources tend to start with the government. And, depending on the size or the scope of your proposal that is certainly alright. But for those smaller projects, requesting smaller dollar amounts, that directly affect your surrounding area, I suggest looking at foundations as a source of funding.

Most cities and counties have community foundations with grants available to address various needs in the area. These foundations are sometimes set up with funds from local partners and contributors and want to focus their efforts on projects that will better the area. (Local resources, helping local people with local projects.) Sometimes there may be criteria for the selection of proposals in various categories such as; educating youth, beautifying the area, environmental, seed money, etc. Generally, I think you will find these applications to be easier to fill out and with shorter turnaround times on funding announcements. Try this website to help locate a foundation near you.

Also, some larger businesses and corporations offer funding in the form of grants to groups in the areas where they have a plant or facility. Some suggestions are Pioneer or Cargill

Think about any local non-for-profit group you apart of and I bet there is some small project that you would like to get funding for. Perhaps it’s your local Fair Board wanting improved facilities, or your Young Farmers group is looking to start an educational program, or Soil and Water Conservation District looking to provide outreach on cleaning up a local waterway. It never hurts to look and see what funds are available in your area.

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