Thursday, December 30, 2010

Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program Grant

USDA has opened the application period for the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) which provides matching funds on a competitive basis to State Departments of Agriculture.  Projects are to assist in exploring new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products, and to encourage research and innovation aimed at improving the efficiency and performance of the U.S. marketing system.

Funds can be used on applied research projects that address barriers, challenges, and opportunities in marketing, transporting, and distributing U.S. food and agricultural products domestically and internationally. 
Eligible agricultural categories include livestock, livestock products, food and feed crops, fish and shellfish, horticulture, viticulture, apiary, and forest products and processed or manufactured products derived from such commodities. Proposals that address issues of importance at the State, multi-State, or national level are appropriate. FSMIP also seeks unique proposals that reflect a collaborative approach between the States, academia, the farm sector and other appropriate entities and stakeholders.

Grants range from $25,000 to $135,000 and if you have a project that would be applicable please contact your state department of agriculture, as they can apply on your behalf.  Applications are due on February 17, 2011.  More information can be found here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas from all of us at ISDA

Just wanted to share some images of Christmas around the ISDA office this week. 
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Woody Biomass Utilization Grant

USDA-Forest Service has opened the 2011 Woody Biomass Utilization Grant.  Projects will use woody biomass material for bioenergy creation.  This program promotes projects that target and help remove economic and market barriers to using woody biomass fro renewable energy.  Assist projects that produce renewable energy from woody biomass.  Reduce forest management costs by increasing the value of biomass and other forest products generated from hazardous fuels reduction and forest health activitiess on forested land.  Create incentives and/or reduce business risk to increase use of woody biomass from our nation's forest lands for renewable energy projects. 

Eligible applicants include local government municipalities, non-for-profits, schools and small businesses. 

Some examples of projects include: woody biomass boiler for steam at a sawmill.  Mom-pressurized hot water system for various applications at a school, biomass power generator.

Applications are due March 1, 2011 and more information can be found here. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

America's Farmers Grow Communities Program

Farmers who are 21 years or older and actively engaged in farming a minimum of 250 acres of corn, soybeans and/or cotton; or 40 acres of open field Vegetables (as defined above) ; or at least 10 acres of tomatoes, peppers, and/or cucumbers grown in protected culture (glasshouse, nethouse, plastic) can apply to the America’s Farmers Grow Communities Program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund.  This program supports rural farming communities by offering farmers the opportunity to register to win $2,500 for their favorite community charity. Recipients could include FFA, 4-H, school or other civic organization – e.g., hospital, fire department or food pantry.

Monsanto realizes the importance of rural communities and want to support the communities where farmers, Monsanto Company’s customers, live and work.  This program is available in 38 states and 1,204 counties.  The applicaiton period closes December 31st so you will need to act quickly in order to take advantage of this opportunity.  Winners were be selected in January and announced in February.  For more details and information visit their website.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's cold outside so stay inside and apply for college scholarships

From time to time on this blog I have mentioned scholarship opportunities for students going off to college.  But now it that winter is coming and it's getting cold outside this is a perfect time to stay inside and start looking for and applying for scholarships.  Grab a cup of hot cocoa and a pen and start applying today because some of these applications will be due in February and March.

Are you an FFA Member?  The National FFA Organizations awards around $2 million to students in various career paths based on their FFA involvement.  Check out the National FFA Organization website for more details as applications are due February 15, 2011.

If you are not an FFA Member don't worry, as there are plenty of companies and foundations who offer scholarships such as Cargill, Farm Credit Services and Monsanto

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Plenty To Be Thankful For

Turkey thawing, bread crumbs for stuffing drying, pumpkin pie already baked and a last minute grocery list in hand, as I head out the door in preparation for Thanksgiving.  With the large task at hand of baking up a holiday feast it's easy to overlook what we are truely thankful for.  Obviously with all this talk about food, I am thankful to work in Agriculture.  I am thankful for Farmers who daily work hard to produce the food that sits on my table, and for every other person who has a hand in processing, inspecting, delivering and selling that same food.

I have some grant opportunities to share with you today, but before I do I wanted to share with you a song Bing Crosby sang in the musical "Holiday Inn."  This is a favorite musical of mine to watch around the holidays and listening to Bing sing "I've Got Plenty To Be Thankful For" with his smooth voice gives me all the more reason to be grateful and extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone in the Agriculture Industry.

Aquatic Education Programs
Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation: National Youth Fishing & Boating Initiative
The mission of the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation is to implement an informed national outreach strategy that will increase participation in recreational angling and boating. The Foundation's National Youth Fishing & Boating Initiative is offering grants to youth-focused boating, fishing, and conservation organizations for pilot-to-national or national aquatic education programs that introduce children and their families to boating and fishing. Priority is given to programs that target minorities and underserved communities. The application deadline is December 27, 2010. Visit the Foundation’s website to review the grant guidelines and submit an online application.

The John Burkhart Indiana Award for College Success. The award will provide up to $1 million to a qualified Indiana nonprofit organization working to promote postsecondary student success in Indiana. More Details.

The National Science Teachers Association and Shell Oil Company have launched a new competition for middle and high school teachers that will bring laboratory resources to school districts across the United States. Through the NSTA Shell Science Lab Challenge, schools will compete for up to $93,000 in total prizes.  More Information

Friday, November 19, 2010

Webinar for USDA's SCBG Program

FREE & Interactive Webinar for USDA's Specialty Crop Block Grant

Thursday, December 16, 2 p.m. ET

This is a unique opportunity for members of the Specialty Crop Industry to take advantage of.  On Thursday, Deceber 16th, you can find out what the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is and how you can apply for grant funds to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. For additional information please view the webinar’s invitation.

Program Description:  The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) is to solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).”

The focus of the webinar will be to generate interest in the program. The webinar will cover eligible projects, some of the federal restrictions and limitations on grant funds, how to apply through your local state department of agriculture, very general grant application information, and success stories.

The webinar will be recorded and afterwards posted on the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for viewing at any time.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Grants for Classroom Pets

I remember several teachers in my elementary school had a classroom pet.  Some had fish, some had hamsters, one even had a snake.  But I always remember being excited to see who got to feed it, what it ate, how the animal spent it's time during the day.  Having a pet in the classroom probably raised by level of interest in animals, biology, anatomy and science in general.  That all being said, I do have a grant opportunity to pass along to you to obtain funding to purchase a pet for your students classroom.

The Pet Care Trust is offering a grant in an effort to establish healthy child-pet relationships at an early age by supporting responsible pet care in grammar and middle school classrooms across the country. These grants are intended to provide a means of teaching children to bond with and care for their pets. K-6 teachers in public and private schools can apply for grants or coupons in the amounts of $50, $100, or $150 for the purchase of new pets and pet environments, as well as food and supplies for existing classroom pets. Requests may be submitted at any time and grant review committee will get back with you within 2 weeks. Visit the Pets in the Classroom website to review the funding guidelines and submit an online application.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Webinar on grant opportunities and applications

Just wanted to make you aware of an online training program that will identify 3 grant opportunities for farmers and other rural residents to apply for their on-farm projects.

The free program will be hosted by Purdue Extension and USDA Rural Development on Monday, Nov. 1, from 10 a.m. to noon (Eastern).  The URL to take part in this program is:

The program will provide participants an opportunity to learn about available grants and will offer insight into eligibility and how to apply for funding.

Grants to be covered include:

* SARE Farmer/ Rancher Grants
* SARE Youth Grants and SARE Youth Educator Grants.
* USDA Rural Development Value Added Producer Grant
* USDA Rural Development Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

National FFA Convention and an FFA Blog you won't want to miss

You may or may not know that the FFA National Convention is going on this week in Indianapolis. 
This event draws over 50,000 FFA'ers from around the country to hear speakers, compete in competions, interact with Agri-Business Leaders and meet other FFA'ers.  I have had to opportunity to interact with several FFA'ers this week by listening in on Ag. Issues events, luncheons, the Career show and Educational Tours.  With such a great group of students one can easily see the future for Agriculture is very bright.

One such group here in Indiana is the FFA State Officer team which has recently started a blog.
FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

This blog will provide insight on the life of a state officer as well as events they are attending around the state, highlights of successes other FFA chapters have had and well as tips and tricks on preparing for contests and conventions.  Please be sure to stop by their blog and check out what all Future of Agriculture has to offer.

Friday, October 15, 2010

One Year Anniversary Give-a-way Winner!

I can hardly believe it was one year ago today, I sat down and wrote the first post for this blog.  Each week I try to provide upcoming grant opportunities, along with tips on applying for and writing a grant.  So keep tuning in each week and I'll keep blogging!!!

Now for the winner of our Give-a-way!

Using they selected ........................... drum roll please....................................
#12 Marybeth.

Thanks to all who participated and I will be in contact with Marybeth to get the prize to her.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

USDA's Farmers' Market Promotion Program Recipients and a Give-a-Way

Just today, USDA announced the recipients of their 2010 Farmers’ Market Promotion Program (FMPP) which awarded over $4 Million to Farmer’s Markets and Non-for-Profit organizations around the US. To view the complete list of winner click here. FMPP was created to help improve and expand domestic farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agri-tourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer marketing opportunities.

Indiana had two recipients.

The Indiana Cooperative Development Center will be receiving $53,160 to 1) organize and establish an Indiana Direct-to-Consumer Market Association and 3 direct marketing retreats, 2) develop a logo, brochure, and marketing materials, and 3) conduct a young farmer training program.

Orange County HomeGrown, Paoli, IN, will be receiving $59, 862 to 1) expand customer base though promotion and use of EBT, 2) provide training and services to market vendors, 3) promote public awareness of nutritional value of locally grown produce in an 8-county region of Indiana, 4) build partnerships to ensure sustainability of 2 existing farmers markets, and 5) create a third market within an underserved community.

Congratulations to both of these organizations!

Don’t forget there is still time to sign up for The Ag. Grant Guru’s 1 Year Anniversary Give-a-way!! (Contest ends at noon on 10/15/10.)
Click here for your chance to win!!!!!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ag Grant Guru Anniversary Give-A-Way

Next week marks the one year Anniversary of the Ag Grant Guru Blog. It’s hard to believe that a year of weekly postings on new various funding opportunities and application tips has passed. Each week I try to highlight funding opportunities from federal, state and local grants as well as blogging about various writing tips or things to think about when putting your grant application together. So this week we will be celebrating with a give-a-way!!!!

I have a Bag full of prizes to give away to one lucky reader.
To enter this contest please see the rules below. Winner will be announced on this blog on 10/15/10 at 4 pm EST.

As always thanks for reading, and I look forward to the next year of more tips, tricks and pointers on navigating the grant process!!!

Ag Grant Guru Anniversary Give-A-Way Rules.
Dates: October 8th- 15th
Entries: Leave a comment on this post of the Ag Grant Guru for each entry that you do.

1 entry: Follow Ag Grant Guru Blog (Just leave me a comment telling me you follow or just started following.)

1 entry: Leave a comment telling me what you would like to learn or read more about in the future on this blog regarding grants.

1 entry: Follow Chew on Dirt Blog (Go over to Jerod’s Blog: and start following his blog and then come back and leave me a comment telling me you did so.)

1 entry: Leave a comment on Chew on Dirt Blog asking him any questions you might have pertaining to Conservation.

1 entry: Follow @Isdagov on Twitter (follow us then leave me a comment telling me you are following or if you are already following just leave me a comment stating so.)

1 entry: Tweet this on Twitter then come back and leave me a comment telling me you did so. “Check out the Ag Grant Guru Blog for tips on finding, applying and managing #grants #agblog

1 entry: Become a friend of IsdaGov on Facebook (even if you are already a friend leave me a comment stating so for more chances to win.)

1 entry: Follow the Ag Grant Guru Blog on Network Blogs on Facebook (then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did that.)
Special Thanks to the Indiana Ag Industry Partners for donating items in this give-a-way.
Submissions close at 1:00 PM (EST) on Friday, October 15th. Winner will be announced Friday, October 15th by 4 PM (EST).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Foundation Funding

Some larger companies and businesses in your local area may have foundations set up to award to projects that directly enhance your community.  One example of this is the Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).  They have a grant program called the Cares program which supports safe, responsible, and environmentally sound agricultural practices in critical growing regions in North America, South America, West Africa, and Southeast Asia. The program provides grant support in the following focus areas: agronomically and environmentally sound agricultural development, including environmental stewardship; farm safety; and improved health, incomes, and working conditions for farmers and their families. Preference is given to groups in ADM communities that can demonstrate clear, measurable results toward stated objectives and a solid track record of success. Online applications may be submitted at any time. Visit their website to learn more about the program.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Loans for Conservation Projects

In the past USDA farm loan programs had not specifically addressed conservation practices.  Therefore, the Farm Service Agency has just recently starting the Conservation Loan program for landowners to install conservation practices on their land. 

Eligible conservation practices must be approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), such as the installation of conservation structures; establishment of forest cover; installation of water conservation measures; establishment or improvement of permanent pastures; implementation of manure management; and the adaptation of other emerging or existing conservation practices, techniques or technologies.

Direct Loans can range up to $300,000.  For more information contact your local FSA office or visit their website.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Funds for Certified Organic Producers

The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) encourages Hoosier farmers interested in organics to take advantage of USDA's National Organic Certification Cost Share Program.

Indiana has received funds through the Agricultural Management Assistance Program, authorized by the Federal Crop Insurance Act, to reimburse producers for the cost of organic certification. Producers may be reimbursed for their certification or recertification expenses between October 1, 2009 and September 30, 2010. Producers can receive up to 75 percent of their organic certification costs, not to exceed $750. Applications can be found on ISDA's website.  Applications and documentation need to be submitted to ISDA by October 15, 2010.

This is an easy opportunity for Organic Producers to receive financial assistance but you will have to act quickly as funds are distributed on a first come first served basis.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another Round of the SARE grant for Farmers and Ranchers

This is a great opportunity for producers to take advantage of and apply for up to $6,000 to use Sustainable Agriculture practices and/or their own innovative 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 2010 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 2, 2010. More information regarding this grant and the application can be found at:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Going Local Week

September 5th - 11th is Going Local Week! 
During this week you are encouraged to eat one local food item for 3 meals a day for a week. 

One of the best places to find fresh LOCAL food is a Farmers' Market.  To find a market near you the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) has an online AgriTourism Directory which list lots of Farmers' Markets, U-Pick stands as well as local wineries and breweries near you. 
ISDA offers the Farmers' Market Cost Share Program to help markets offset their costs with advertising and promotion.  This year ISDA awarded $10,000 to 21 different markets around the state.  Those awarded markets include: Monroe County Growers Association, Bloomington Community Farmers' Market, Shelby County Farmers' Market, South Milford Farmers' Market, Richmond Farmers' Market, Bloomington Winter Farmers' Market, Harrision County Farmers Market, Avon Farmers' Market, Community Farmers Market of Owen County, Scott County Farmers' Market, South Side Farmers Market (Allen County), Highland Street Market, Historic Lafayette Farmers' Market, Farmers' Market at Minnetrista, Orange County HomeGrown Farmers' Market, Carmel Farmers Market, Fulton County Farmers' Market,
Vincennes Historic Farmers' Market, Valparaiso Farmers' Market, and the Binford Farmers Market

For more information on Going Local Week be sure to check out the Going Local Blog

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's Back to School Time with Grants for Youth and Educators

The long hot days of summer have turned most corn fields their harvest time gold, the leaves on the trees are just starting to think about turning, the wind has a crisp cool feeling to it and school buses are rolling every morning to take kids back to school. With that all being said I have a couple of grants that related directly to youth education to pass along to you today.

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program is funded through the USDA National Institute of Agriculture (NIFA). The SARE program works primarily through competitive grant programs administered the North Central Region which includes 12 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. There are currently 2 grant opportunities available focusing on Youth and Youth Education.

Youth SARE Grant- This grant is for youth, ages 8 – 18 and eligible projects include: on-farm research, demonstration, or education projects. Research and demonstration projects are for hands-on efforts to explore Sustainable Agriculture issues and practices. Education projects can involve teaching others about Sustainable Agriculture or attending a Sustainable Agriculture conference, workshop, or camp. The maximum grant award is $400 projects must be finished within one year and applications are due January 14, 2011. For more information go to

Youth Educator SARE Grants- Grants for educators to provide programming on Sustainable Agriculture for youth with a $2,000 maximum. This grant program focuses on Sustainable Agriculture and how it relates to profitability; and the effects it has on families, communities, quality of life; and the environment long term. NCR-SARE encourages you to be creative and innovative, and to work directly with local farmers and ranchers who practice Sustainable Agriculture. Please note: 21st Century Farming does involve growing food and fiber and can include market gardens and urban agriculture. Applications are due January 14, 2011. For more information go to

Some other grant programs that would also be of interest to schools and educators are:

National Garden Association-Youth Garden Grants Program-Home Depot and the National Gardening Association (NGA) have partnered as sponsor for the Youth Garden Grants 2011. NGA annually awards Youth Garden Grants to schools and community organizations with child-centered garden programs across the United States. These gardens should ber used to instruct at least one of the following initatives; educational focus or curricular/program integration, nutrition or plant-to-food connections , environmental awareness/education, entrepreneurship , social aspects of gardening such as leadership development, team building, community support, or service-learning. Eligible applicants include Schools, youth groups, community centers, camps, clubs, treatment facilities, and intergenerational groups throughout the United States. Applicants must plan to garden with at least 15 children between the ages of three and 18 years. Grant funds can range from $500 -$1,000 and applications are due November 1, 2010. For more information visit

Target Company Field Trip Grants-Target will be awarding 5,000 grants of $700 each to schools for the upcoming school year. Teachers can use a grant to fund a school field trip that connects their curriculum to out-of-school experiences. Applications are due before September 30, 2010 and more information can be found at

"Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness." -Thomas Jefferson

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dig-IN: A Taste of Indiana

Sunday, August 29th marks the inaugural Dig-IN event.  From noon till 6 pm at Military Park on the White River State Park grounds cconsumers will have an opportunity to experience the taste of Indiana grown products.  This event will showcase high quality, locally produced Indiana foods and remind consumers what a bounty Indiana farmers/producers have to offer.   

Dig-IN will feature many of the state's best chefs preparing unique dishes from these locally grown foods and attendees will be able to sample them.  Speakers will be on had to provide educational information on an array of food and food related topics.  Also on hand to sample will be Indiana made wines and beers, along with music by Jascha, Kate LaMont and Jookabox.

This event will be a feast for the senses and show just how great Indiana agriculture taste!

For more information visit Dig-IN's website

Friday, August 13, 2010

Grants for Cities to plant trees

Cities and not-for-profit organizations can apply for a grant to plant trees in urban areas, on public property.  The 2010 Put the Trees Back Program is administered by Indiana's Department of Natural Resources-Division of Forestry's Urban Forestry Program.  Eligible applicants can apply for up to $20,000 however there is a 50% match requirement either in cash or in-kind services.  All projects must be in urban areas and planted on public property.  The deadline for applications is November 15th and selected proposals can start in the spring of 2011.  For more information visit DNR's website

Friday, July 30, 2010

Just a reminder the Indiana State Fair is about to start!!!!

After waiting 348 days since the last one, I'm happy to announce that the Great Indiana State Fair starts this Friday, August 6th and runs through Sunday, August 22nd.  This years theme is the "year of the pigs" which is very appropriate as Indiana ranks 5th in the nation for pork production and contributes $3 billion to Indiana's economy annually. 

While you are at the fair be sure to stop by the hog barn and check out the worlds largest boar as well as the champion litter.  (That's a female hog and her piglets, they are super cute and you won't want to miss it!)  You'll also want to eat a Garbage Burger, which is the signature food item for this years fair and consists of a porkbuger with pulled pork BBQ on top.  I think that sounds delish and can't wait to try it.  So come on out and see Indiana's Agriculture on show case!!!   

County Fairs and Community Foundations

It’s summertime in Indiana and that means…. county fair time!!! As a ten year 4-H member myself, I loved showing livestock, baking pies to exhibit, eating elephant ears and seeing all the other sights and sounds the county fair had to offer. Being so involved in 4-H I also knew the amount of time and resources that went in to the upkeep of a fairgrounds; buildings, arenas, barns, pens, etc. And from time to time today I get questions from citizens wanting to know about grants for their fair facilities. What I always suggest to them is to check with their local community foundation. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; foundations are great resources for smaller projects with a quick turn-around time. Most community foundations want to utilize their funds on projects that directly benefit their community. A fairgrounds project would be an ideal applicant because of how many people attend the fair or utilize the fairgrounds throughout the rest of the year.

I have listed two websites here with contact information for the community foundations in the state of Indiana for your reference. Feel free to check out the ones in your area and find out more about their application process and what types of projects/activities they offer funding for.  

Friday, July 23, 2010

Starting a Small Business?

I often get asked if there are grants available to start a small business?  Yes and No is my answer.  Sometimes there are some grants available to help business, but you may have to be located in a certain area, come from a certain background, or any number of other criteria that the grantor's have developed.  Those grants are usually few and far between and are purposefully set up to reach a narrowly identified group. 

However, there are always low interest loans available through the US Small Business Administration.  This is a federal agency and the programs they offer are very sound and secure.  Their website offers lots of information not only on loans but also on other programs to assist business owners.  I encourage you to check out their website for additional information.

I always warn constituents to use caution in appling for loans or grants that are not federally funded.  In some cases there are scams out there.  It's best to research who the funder is and find out what other projects they have actually funded.  Sometimes the old cliche' "If it sounds too good to be true....."  is a good cautionary measure to use. to gauge wether or not to apply.    

Friday, July 16, 2010

The USDA, through the Office of Advocacy and Outreach, is making available
4.7 million dollars as a second round of funding formerly referred to as the 2501 Program, in the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (OASDFR) Competitive Grant Program.

This grant provides funds to organizations to conduct outreach and technical assistance to encourage and assist socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to own and operate farms and ranches and to participate in agricultural programs. The OASDFR will support a wide range of outreach and assistance activities in farm management, financial management, marketing, application and bidding procedures, and other areas. The primary purpose of the OASDFR is to deliver outreach and technical assistance, to assure opportunities for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to successfully acquire, own, operate, and retain farms and ranches; and assure equitable participation in the full range of USDA programs.

The Objective of this funding is to attract local, community-based organizations and other
eligible entities who are capable of accomplishing a project that addresses all four of the
following components:
• Collect and analyze information on the number of actual and potential socially disadvantaged farmers within a defined geographic area:
• Outreach with the specific purpose of identification of root causes of failure to achieve equitable participation in USDA agricultural programs by Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers, as well as development of recommended solutions
• Development and deployment of improved approaches to outreach and technical assistance
• Collection and analysis of information on success of those approaches.

More information regarding this grant can be found at Deadline for submitting applications is August 9, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tips on Grants: Know Your Funder

When you are applying for any grant; whether it is a government grant or a foundation grant, you should know your funder. (Especially with foundation grants.) Do your homework and research, either through news releases or websites, and see what the organizations mission statement is. What are their goals? What is their strategic plan? Who sits on their board and what is their background? What type of projects have they funded in the past?

This information is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it will help you to gauge how your project compares to winning proposals from the past. Is the size of your project and scope of your project similar to previous grant recipients? Secondly, in some cases it may help if you mentioned in your proposal how your project compares and/or compliments previous projects they have funded. This shows the grant reviewers that you are interested in what the organization does and ways your project can expand their outreach. Lastly, if you do find out that the awarding organization is not a good fit or has a different focus than yours, it can save you the time of filling out the application.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Additional Attachments to help Support your Grant Proposal

Every organization has documents that showcase and support what they do.  This can range from a mission statement to a chart and graph showing the impact they have on the community.  These documents can sometimes be helpful with putting together a grant application, as some grants do allow for additional information that supports your proposal to be included in the application packet.  Please note not all grant applications allow for these additional attachments so it is important that you check in the program guidance/required content for your grant program.  If they do (and only if they do) then additional information can be an asset to help supporting the content of your proposal.  (If they do not then additional information may hurt your application.)

Now you may be thinking what kind of additional attachments/information are you referring to?  Think about the following list of items that you or your organization have on hand in terms of adding credit and notoriety to your proposal. 

Organizational Chart
Collaboration Chart (list of partners)
Timeline, Maps, Flow Charts
Charts and Graphs
Logic Models
Job Descriptions/Resumes/Prof. Biography
Memorandum of Understanding
Letters of Support
Operating Budget, Audits, Monthly Financial Statements

Again, only include these items if the grant proposal allows for additional attachments and if they support the overall scope your proposal. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tips on Timelines for your Grant Application

Over Memorial Day Weekend, my husband and I re-landscaped the front of our house. I had taken my measurements, done my math and figured out how much we needed for stone, weed barrier, edging and plants. I made my list, made my purchases, got out all my tools and supplies and we were ready to go. Now being a farm girl, I’m not afraid to push up my sleeves and do a little physical labor in order to get the job done. However, while we were digging holes we kept running into roots that were there from previous bushes and trees. This added to some frustration and extra time to stop, trim the roots then get back to digging. What could have gone so smoothly ended up taking a lot more sweat and muscle to get the job done. Luckily, us farm girls also know how to work from sun up to sun down and the landscape got finished.

No matter how well planned and organized you are, there are going to be setbacks that you didn’t plan for. And this can apply directly to the timeline you prepare in any grant application. Reviewers will want to see that you are making detailed plans to achieve the results the project requires. This section is an area to showcase the amount of thought you have put into this proposal. Be sure to list out people, supplies, and events that will take place. Then describe how those will be implemented, what tasks will be done to accomplish this. Lastly list the amount of time it will take. Don’t be unrealistic as that will not impress the viewer. It might not hurt to give yourself a little bit of extra time to ensure everything gets done, but at the same time don’t take up to much time and draw the project out.

Sometimes this section of the grant is written up as a table, sometimes in bullet points and sometimes in paragraph form. The grant RFP (request for proposal) should state how to include this in your proposal. Also, some RFP’s may refer to this section as Methods, Activities, Procedures, etc. Regardless what it is called it is an important section of your application and can show the reviewer how knowledgeable and determined you are to see this grant projects success.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

USDA-Hunger Free Communities Grant

While US farmers do a fantastic job at producing food there are still some people and food pantries across the country who struggle with hunger issues. This is called food insecurity and in 2008, 14.6% of US households at some point during the year did not have enough food to keep all members of their family fed.

As a way to combat this problem USDA has allocated Five Million dollars in funding to the Hunger Free Communities Grant. This grant is available for communities, agencies providing social services, public health organizations, educational entities and other non-profit entities such as food banks. Funding can be used for research, planning, and hunger relief activities including but not limited to: food distribution, community outreach, initiatives that improve access to food, and the development of new resources and strategies to reduce or prevent hunger and food insecurity. Applicants can only apply once but there are two different areas their proposals could fall into: planning and assessment grants and then implementation grants. USDA does anticipate this grant program being available in future years.

Projects can last up to two years, and there is a 20 percent matching requirement. Grant Applications are due September 1, 2010 and more information can be found at:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tis the Season for Farmers’ Markets

©233x240 Pictures, Images and PhotosOne of the things I enjoy about this time of year is going to local Farmers’ Markets. I enjoy seeing all the fresh produce and the farmers that grow it. Whatever I don’t grow in my own garden I try to pick up at the local Farmers’ Market. If you are searching for a Farmers’ Market in your area you should check out ISDA’s On-line Agritourism Directory. This directory lists local wineries and u-pick stands along with Farmers’ Markets by.

That all being said I wanted to remind everyone that ISDA has two grant programs available that can directly assist Farmers’ Markets and Producers of Specialty Crops.

The Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) awards funds to organizations that will “solely” enhance the Specialty Crop Industry. Applications are due June 25th, 2010. For more information and details regarding this program please check out one of my previous posts about the SCBG

Secondly, ISDA offers the Farmers’ Market Cost Share Program. This program reimburses Farmers Markets for the cost of their advertising and promotional expenses up to $500.  This program runs through August 31st, 2010, however, funds are awarded on a first come first serve basis. More information and details regarding this program can be found in a previous blog post about the Farmers' Market Cost Share Program.

You can also check out ISDA's grant website for applicaitons for both of these programs plus a list of other various agriculture grants. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Funding for Scholarships

The month of May and June always bring Graduations and Graduation Parties. While sounds of Pomp and Circumstance linger through the air, I sit eating another piece of graduation cake and all of a sudden it occurs to me that a scholarship application is very similar to a grant application. And when I start to think more about it; I come to the conclusion that a scholarship is a type of grant. It is awarded based on what you have done in the past and will fund what you plan to accomplish in the future.

And, that is where the thought for this blog post came from. Although it may be a little late for this year it’s never too late to start planning for next year.

An ideal place to looking for scholarships is your local community foundation. Most offer scholarships based on how good of a student you are or what major/career path you plan to take. Also, I would suggest checking out larger businesses and corporations as they sometimes have scholarships available. In some cases the scholarships may only be awarded to employees or relatives of employees so it never hurts to check and see if employers of family members have scholarships available.

Lastly I would suggest looking around at some of the non-for-profit organizations in your community as well. Many times they will offer scholarships based on need or an area of study that matches their mission.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I’m From the Country… and I Like it That Way

I believe Tracy Byrd sang the lyrics to this song “that’s where I’m from and I’m proud to say… I’m from the country and I like it that way.” Don’t be surprised if I turn that song up and sing along on the radio this evening on my drive home, out of the bustling city amongst all the other rush hour drivers to head to my house nestled in the country side of central Indiana. Ahhh… the country… it is so peaceful and quiet there and makes me appreciate all the simple things in life.

But all of that aside I have a grant from USDA to mention to you today that is available for cooperatives or associations of cooperatives whose primary focus is to provide assistance to small producers in rural areas and where at least 75 percent of the governing board or membership has an annual gross ag product sales of $250,000 or less. Grants can be used for product improvements, business plan development, or economic development activities of eligible producers. Funds can range up to $200,000 per grant. Applications are due July 27th and more information can be found at  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Biomass, Biofuels, Biothis and Biothat

I have 3 programs to share with you today that all deal with renewable energy. So to get things started off….

Biomass Research and Development Initiative

US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Energy (DOE) are offering funding through a grant for Biomass Research and Development. Funding can be used on: Technologies and processes necessary for abundant commercial production of biofuels at prices competitive with fossil fuels; High-value biobased products; and a diversity of economically and environmentally sustainable domestic sources of renewable biomass for conversion to biofuels, bioenergy, and biobased products. Eligible applicants include: non-profits, academia and the private sector. Pre-applications are due June 7, 2010 and more information can be found at;jsessionid=MHtLLqTZjDqDKXvvh1z5GyT1dFy6dcS4PNG0JLRRy9bTP2TnN10P!-2132130105?oppId=54455&mode=VIEW

USDA-Repowering Assistance Program

Eligible biorefineries in existence before June 18th, 2008 can partake in this program which encourages the use of renewable biomass as a replacement fuel source for fossil fuels used to provide process heat or power in the operation of this biorefineries. Payments will be made based on the amount of fossil fuel a renewable biomass system is replacing; the cost effectiveness and economic benefit to the area. For applications please contact your USDA-Rural Development State Office.

USDA-Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels payments to Advanced Biofuel Producers

This program provides payments to to eligible advanced Biofuel producers in rural areas for the production of fuel derived from renewable biomass, other than corn kernel starch to include: biofuels derived from cellulose, hemicelluloses, lignin, sugar, starch, waste material, diesel-equivalent fuel derived from renewable biomass included vegetable oil and animal fat, biogas, and butanol. For applications please contact your state USDA-Rural Development office.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Deadline for REAP grant

I have blogged before about USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grant (in case you missed that post you can find it here at ) However, I wanted to revisit that grant program again and make sure you were aware of its impending due date. The Indiana USDA Rural Development State Office has received approximately $1.2 million in REAP grant funds allocation and approximately $6.2 million in loan fund allocation. In order to be considered to receive funding from the Indiana state allocation of grant funds, applications must be received by the state USDA Rural Development office no later than 4:30 PM on Monday, May 17, 2010. If an application is received by USDA after May 17, 2010, but before June 30, 2010, then the application may only be considered to receive funding from the national funding allocation. Please note the final deadline for any REAP grant applications to be considered for funding in FY 2010 is 4:30 PM on June 30, 2010.

If you will recall the REAP grant is for energy efficient ideas for your farm or small business that could reduce energy use and result in financial savings for your operation. 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. Check out USDA’s REAP website for the full program guidance.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

“Bean” planning to do educational outreach on your farm???

One of the two main crops grown in the US is Soybeans. (For those of you not familiar with what a soybean plant looks like: they are the shorter, bushier appearing plant you’ll see this summer as you drive around the country side. As opposed to corn which grows tall and has a tassel on top.) Last year US farmers planted 77.5 million acres to soybeans. While you may think soybeans are only grown for animal feed you should know that soybeans and soy oils are daily being researched and developed into renewable alternatives for the production of energy and chemicals. Did you know soy oil is used in crayons, candles and jet fuel? The soy oil is used in place of petroleum oil which helps conserve fossil fuels. In the state of Indiana more than 28,000 farmers grow soybeans, and yet I felt the need to explain at the beginning of this blog post what a soybean looked like because there are a lot of people out there who may not know what a soybean is.

The Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) offers grants to Indiana farmers who have projects that would educate and communicate a positive message about agriculture in their area. This grant would fund projects that would reach out to the non-ag community; and engage them with opportunities to learn more about farming practices. Producers could develop websites, host farm tours, food drives, school kids and more as an effort to explain their production practices and their way of life. These types of farm outreach programs are important as people understand where their food comes from and how fortunate we are to have such a safe and affordable food supply.

This ISA grant is available to organizations and individuals; applications are accepted on an on-going basis, however you need to apply at least one month prior to the projects start date. Funding will not exceed half of the estimated costs associated with the project and the application can be found at

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Earth Day!!!

In case you didn’t already know; today is Earth Day. Earth Day is a day to be more aware and appreciative of the Earth's environment. I would argue that for a Farmer; every day is Earth Day. Perhaps you have heard that statement before but, when you stop and think about it, everyday Farmers’ are consciously making an effort to utilize their cropland the best way possible. Many farmers use conservation practices to lessen the amount of soil erosion and run off in their fields. With that being said, I’ll get back to grants and mention an opportunity for creating a “greenway” in your town/area.

The Conservation Fund, in partnership with Eastman Kodak and the National Geographic Society, provides “Greenway Grants” as small grants to stimulate the planning and design of greenways in communities across the United States. Grants may be used for activities such as mapping, ecological assessments, surveying, conferences, design activities, developing brochures and interpretative displays, public opinion surveys, hiring consultants, incorporating land trusts, building foot bridges, planning bike paths, or other creative projects. In general, grants can be used for all appropriate expenses needed to complete, expand, or improve a greenway project, including planning, technical assistance, legal, and other costs. Grants may not be used for academic research, general institutional support, lobbying, or political activities. Awards will be made primarily to local, regional, or statewide nonprofit organizations. Public agencies may also apply. Most grants will range from $500 to $1,000 each. The maximum grant amount is $2,500. Applications are due June 15, 2010 and for more details and the application visit:

Friday, April 16, 2010

SARE Grant for Research and Education?!?! ….just ask the farm girl

Research in agriculture is a strong component of the industry’s continued efficiencies in production, while also addressing environmentally, economically and socially responsible practices. I have become more familiar with some aspects of ag research through my husbands work, but before I get to that; I wanted to tell you about the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant for Research and Education Programs.

The SARE Research & Education Grant Program provides funds to collaborative teams of scientists, farmers, institutions, organizations, and educators who are exploring sustainable agriculture through in-depth research projects or education/demonstration projects. Additionally, proposed projects should focus on farm and ranch profitability, marketing sustainable agriculture products and include a strong outreach component.

Grant funds range from $10,000 to 200,000. The North Central SARE grant is open to 12 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Pre-proposals are due on June 11, 2010. More information regarding this grant and the application can be found at:

To close I wanted to share a fun story about my husband. As I previously mentioned he does research for an Agri-chemical company and one day last summer I went out with him to look at some of his trials (fields). We walked out into a soybean field that had been planted with two different types of soybean seed. Once we reached the point in the field where it was divided between the two trials he asked me which side looked better. (Now, before I go any further in this story I have to tell you; I’m a farm girl. I grew up around corn and soybeans. I have heard many a conversation by farmers or even my own family talking about how their soybeans looked, if they had soybean aphids, when they started to turn yellow, how big or small the pods were and on and on.) To my left the soybeans were shorter, had some little holes in the leaves from pest damage, and looked to have fewer seed pods. To my right the soybeans were taller, greener, a lot more seed pods that were fuller looking and just an overall more vivacious looking plant. So, obviously… I picked the ones on the right. My husband agreed and the next day at work he was reporting his findings to his co-workers and said to them, “Even my wife, and her untrained eye, knew which soybeans were superior.”
Untrained eye!?!? All I can say is… it’s a good thing he asked (and married) a farm girl….

Friday, April 9, 2010

Well I was born in a small town… And I can breathe in a small town

Just like the John Mellencamp song says: “I’ve seen it all in a small town, had myself a ball in a small town.” I grew up in one such small town in North Central, Indiana and can safely say the older I get the more I like small town, rural America. Where else can you walk down the street and know over half of the people you see? Where else can you eat at the local diner and get all the latest news and gossip? Small towns have such a sense of pride in their community, their schools, and any other thing that makes their town unique. That’s why this weeks blog post features grants that specifically aid projects in those small town, rural areas.

USDA’s definition of rural is; any area other than a city with a population greater than 50,000.

USDA- Rural Business Opportunity Grant promotes sustainable economic development in rural communities with exceptional needs through provision of training and technical assistance for business development, entrepreneurs and economic development officials to assist with economic development planning. Eligible applicants include rural public bodies, rural non profit corporations and cooperatives with primarily rural members. Applications are due June 28, 2010 and for more information you can visit this website and check with your USDA Rural Development State office,

USDA-New Era Rural Technology Competitive Grant Program is for technology development, applied research and/or training to develop an agriculture based renewable energy workforce. Funding will be used to enable community colleges and advanced technological centers located in rural areas to strengthen the Nation’s technical, scientific and professional workforce in the fields of bioenergy, pulp and paper manufacturing and ag based renewable energy resources. Applications are due April 14th, 2010 and more information can be found at

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Springtime on the Farm

Spring is here and the signs outside my window prove it. The sun is shining, the grass is greening, the daffodils are blooming, and on my family’s farm the baby lambs are running about baaahhhing. That’s right….baaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhing! You may be asking yourself why lambs are born in the spring and not year round. Well that is because sheep are seasonal breeders. Their fertility increases as the length of daylight decreases (photoperiod). They breed in the fall, carry the lambs for 5 months and then deliver them in the spring. I recall one spring morning, while I was still in high school, going out to the barn to do chores and finding 3 baby lambs with 5 different ewes (mom sheep) trying to claim them. At first this seemed a little chaotic but after looking things over I figured out one ewe had triplets and the other 4 ewes were just anxious to have lambs of their own.

I share a little bit about my farm with you for two reasons this week; firstly, to tell you some information about farm loans and secondly to let you know about the Indiana Farmers’ Feed US campaign.

I have a lot of people ask about the availability of grants to start a farm. Grants for this are pretty uncommon but, what I do like to suggest are some low interest loans through USDA. One in particular is the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Loan. This loan is available to individuals or entities who have not operated a farm for more than 10 years. For all the details you should visit your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office, and you can use this link to find an office near you.

Now about Indiana Farmers’ Feed US. This is a program which allows consumers to learn more about where their food comes from and connect with the producers who actually raise their food. Farmers work hard to produce a quality product for you (the consumer) to enjoy. Just like the information I provided at the beginning of this blog about the animals on my farm when you visit you will be able to learn more from other farmers about what they do on their operations. Now I bet you’re thinking, what does this has to do with Grants??? Well….not much, but this blog is used as a funding resource, and if you go to the website you can sign up to win FREE GROCERIES for a YEAR!!!!! Just like grants, all it takes is your time to apply and you may be surprised with the outcome.

While March came in like a Lion this year in Indiana, it is going out with a bunch of baby lambs running around in a green pasture.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Chew on This! The new Blogger on the Block

There is a new blogger in the blogosphere who I wanted to highlight this week; Jerod Chew the Director of ISDA’s Division of Soil Conservation, and author of “Chew on Dirt.” Jerod will have weekly blog discussions about agricultural conservation programs. As I’m sure you will soon see Jerod is very passionate about the effects conservation can have not only on farmland but also on our towns and waterways.

From time to time I post grants and funding opportunities that relate to the conservation world and would be ideal for Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD’s) as well as not-for-profit organizations such as Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited groups to apply for.

For example the US Department of the Interior offers the Watershed Intern Program for nonprofits to apply for funds to hire interns to work on projects that clearly enhance the sustainability of the watershed’s organizations project to clean up the environments or contribute directly to the remediation of acid mine drainage. Eligible states considered for funding include Indiana as well as Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The Department anticipates awarding 20 grants ranging from $1,250 to $2,500 each. Applications are due September 30th and more information can be found at:

A couple of years ago I was administering ISDA’s Clean Water Indiana Grants, and through my daily interactions with SWCD’s I became more familiar with some of the various conservation practices. So familiar in fact, that I found some of their conservation ideals wearing off on me. For example, this one day in early spring I was driving home from work and had just turned off the interstate and drove down some country roads to get to my house. I glanced to my left and saw a tractor out in a field. I didn’t think too much about it after all it was spring and plowing is what farmers do. For some reason I did a double take and saw that the farmer was using a mold board plow and completely turning the soil up and over on what had been a soybean field the season before. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Instantly I started questioning why the farmer didn’t realize how much he soil he would loose from the wind and the effects this would have on the soil’s nutrients, and then…. it hit me…. All those grants I had been auditing on cover crops and watershed restoration and stream bank stabilization projects had set in and made an impression on me. I was a conservation conscientious citizen and cared how that farmers management practices would affect the fields and waterways around him. I hope Jerod’s blog has the same effect on you and opens your eyes to the ideas he has to offer.

Friday, March 19, 2010

2 for 1 Deal on Farmers’ Markets

I don’t know about you, but I like to shop. I like looking around in a store and seeing everything it has to offer. I like the feeling of finding something you can’t live without, buying it and taking it home. But what I really love… is a good bargain. And have I got a deal for you this week?!?! Not one, but two (yes two) grants that are available for Farmers’ Markets.

The first grant is a federal grant through USDA called the Farmers’ Market Promotion Program. Farmers’ Markets can apply directly to USDA to receive this funding. While the second program is the ISDA Farmers’ Market Cost Share Program. Farmers’ Markets can apply to ISDA to receive a reimbursement for their advertising and promotional expenses. Both of these grants (one federal and one state) are great opportunities for Farmers’ Markets to take advantage of and possibly the only grant opportunities they may have this year.

USDA-Farmers’ Market Promotion Program
Farmers’ Markets are eligible to apply for funding to promote the domestic consumption of agricultural commodities by expanding direct producer-to-consumer marketing opportunities. Direct producer-to-consumer marketing proposals that may be funded include projects addressing issues related to farmers markets, roadside stands, community supported agriculture programs, agritourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer marketing channels. The minimum award per grant is $2,500 and the maximum is $100,000. Applications are due April 15th, 2010 and more information can be found at

ISDA-Farmers’ Market Cost Share Program
ISDA has $10,000 available through a previous Specialty Crop Block grant to reimburse Farmers’ Markets in the state of Indiana for advertising. This program will reimburse 50 percent of the cost of advertising, displays and promotional materials farmers’ markets pay for these items up to $500. Markets can receive reimbursement for expenditures made 11/1/09-8/31/10 as long as they have receipts available. Applications are due before August 31, 2010 (please note funds are awarded on a first come first serve basis). More information can be found on ISDA’s website at

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Modern Day Cinderella-Running Late and in a Hurry

Earlier this week I was in a hurry to get somewhere and the escalator I was riding wasn’t moving fast enough. So, I decided to go ahead and climb the steps instead of waiting for it to move me to the top. After just a couple of steps I realized I had just stepped out of my shoe (you know the black and gray snake skin heels that I really only wear with my black and gray hounds tooth checked teacup jacket….sorry sidetrack…anyway) but I only had two more steps to the top so I kept going. Once I reached the top I turned around and watched my high heeled shoe finish riding the escalator to the top. As I swooped down to pick it up and slip it back on my foot, (so much for saving some time and climbing the escalator) I thought to myself, this must be how a modern day Cinderella would feel: still in a hurry, still loosing her slipper, but now with technology instead of a prince.

I tell you that story, to remind you when you are preparing grant applications to not wait until the last minute to send in your application. Don’t be in a rush and overlook or leave out a piece of the application. Some applications require more than just the proposal, in some case there are separate budget forms that will need filled out. Federal grant applications may also require additional forms such as lobbying, non-construction, or budget justification forms. If any of the required forms are not included in your application package the grantor will throw it out and not review it.

Also, grantors are very strict on deadlines and due dates. Some grants may call for a “Letter of Interest” prior to the full application being due. These simply give the funder an idea of how many applications they will be receiving so they can plan and prepare accordingly. But you should also note that receiving that letter by the due date could be critical to them accepting your full proposal by the application due date.

Another tip is that if you use to submit applications, please be aware that on busier days the system can get bogged down and run slower. It may take too long for your application to upload and if you miss the cut off (time wise) you will be out of luck and they will not accept your application. It is wise to submit your application a couple of days early just in case something goes wrong. I usually suggest trying to get online and send it early in the morning or later in the evening as there are fewer users on and the system runs quicker. It will save you time and frustration to plan ahead, and not to wait till the last minute.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Now You are Speaking My Language-Part 2

Being a newlywed I received wedding gifts like a pressure cooker, food mill and food processor that I wanted to get out of the box and put to good use. So one day last fall I went to a local apple orchard and bought 2 Pecks of apples to use for canning apple butter, apple sauce and apple pie filling. Now, you might be thinking, what’s a peck? Well it’s a unit of measurement equivalent to ¼ a bushel. So…. what’s a bushel, is now the question you have.

Webster’s defines bushel as;
“the volume of a cylinder 18.5 in (47 cm) in diameter and 8 in (20 cm) high.”

Regardless what you call it I came home with a couple bags of apple and started peeling, slicing and dicing and getting my apples all prepped to be canned. When I was finished I ended up with 10 pints of applesauce, 6 quarts of apple pie filling and about a dozen little jelly jars of apple butter.

Now, don’t get me started on the difference between a pint and quart.

I use this story to point out that when writing up your grant proposal you need to be sure and label each section of your write up the same as is listed in the Request for Proposals (RFQ). If, in the first section they want you to write about is called an Abstract, make sure you title the heading as Abstract. Do not call it Overview, Background, Justification, Goals, or anything else. This is the same with every other topic area they want you to write on. If they ask for the sections in an certain order: Abstract, Outcomes, Timelines, Budget, and Conclusion; then make sure your proposal is set in the same manner, same flow, same heading, same verbiage.

Why is this important? Chances are the person reviewing your grant has a score sheet and there is a certain number of points set aside for each section. Chances are they are going to read your abstract and score your abstract before moving on to the next section. Chances are they are reading a lot of applications and are in a repetitive flow of reading and scoring and moving on. If they can’t find the next section to score, or are confused as to what exact section your write up relates to, they may score you low or not score you at all. Don’t take that chance. The grantor takes the time to write up the RFQ, you as an applicant should take the time to follow the outline they put in place. Use the same titles, same order and give your application every chance it has to be successful.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Now You are Speaking my Language

Growing up in rural Indiana I noticed people talked about the weather a lot. Did it rain, or not, and how much. One farmer might have gotten half an inch while another got seven tenths. And, depending on how dry it had been; lead to how much boasting the farmer who got a little bit more rain would become. And, obviously when your crops are dependent on the weather to grow and you are dependent on your crops for an income, then yes; the weather is an important aspect of daily conversation.

So one time this past summer my husband came inside from checking the rain gauge and seemed a bit puzzled because although he knew it had rained, there wasn’t any water in his gauge. My response back to him was, “Well it rained enough to lay the dust.” Disappointedly he said, “yes, but no one knows how much that is.” I smiled thinking of the many farmers back home who would have gladly accepted this answer and said, “The people who need to know…..would know.”

I tell you this quaint story of assumptions so that when you sit down to write a grant application you will do the exact opposite. I am sure that there are acronyms, slang and jargon that you use to call the processes or tools you work with daily. And while you and others in your industry or area of expertise may know exactly what you are referring to, a person reviewing your grant may not. Not always are grant review panels experts in the subject matter they review. Therefore, you need to make certain when putting together your grant narratives/summaries that you call items by the proper name and in some cases explain or go into more detail. This will ensure that the grant reviewer will understand what you are talking about and can fairly score your application.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Mixed Bag of Goodies

For some reason the past week or two I have been using the phrase; “a mixed bag of goods” a lot. Whether that’s the randomness of projects I’ve been working on, or the lack of consistency between what I expect and what I get; regardless, that phrase seems to express where I’m at. Now I’ll be the first to admit I enjoying flowering my speech with quaint phrases (I like to call “Hoosierisms”) such as; “Between you, me and fence post” this weeks blog post is “a mixed bag of goods”.

To start off with there are two foundation opportunities that would be ideal for those groups looking to do small projects around their community. The first is a Constellation Energy’s EcoStar Grant due March 16th to non-profits looking to do projects that focus on Recycling projects, tree plantings, educational type of events for environmental stewardship, projects that support energy conservation measures, wetland restoration, community gardens and urban forests. Awarded funds are up to $5,000 and applications can be found at
The second is the Heineman Foundation which provides seed money to start projects for environmental research that will help prevent, reduce and/or eliminate water degradation. Projects can last for 3-5 years and average awards are $20,000-50,000. More information can be found at:

Next, I wanted to pass along a scholarship opportunity for members of Farm Credit Services serving Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee. Thirty-six scholarships ranging from $1,000-1,500 will be awarded to college students enrolled in agriculture programs. Applications can be found at under the link Community Support.

Lastly, I wanted to “put a bug in your ear” about USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant. Applications may be submitted by a collaborative state, tribal, local, or regionally-based network or partnership of public or private entities. These collaborations may include the following entities: State cooperative extension services; Federal, State, or tribal agencies; community based organizations and nongovernmental organizations; junior and four-year colleges or universities or foundations maintained by a college or university; private for-profit organizations; and other appropriate partners. This is a competitive grants program for the purpose of providing education, outreach, training and technical assistance to benefit beginning farmers and ranchers in the United States. Applications are due April 6, 2010 and there is a 25% matching requirement. More information can be found at

Now, “don’t be slower than molasses in January.” Check out these opportunities and plan to turn in your application soon.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Additional Thoughts & Ideas for a Specialty Crop Block Grant Application

Last week I announced the opening of the Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) but this week I again wanted to spend some time talking about various projects and ideas that could be applicable for funding. Since one of the biggest criteria for the grant is the Specialty Crop itself those crops that qualify are: Algae, Chickpeas, Christmas trees, Cocoa, Coffee, Cut flowers, Dry edible beans, Dry peas, Foliage, Fruit grapes for wine, Garlic, Ginger root, Ginseng, Herbs, Honey, Hops, Kava, Lavender, Lentils, Maple syrup, Mushrooms, Organic fruits and vegetables, Peppermint, Potatoes, Seaweed, Spearmint, Sweet Corn, Vanilla, Vegetable seeds, Commonly recognized fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and nursery crops (including floriculture).

If you grow any of these crops perhaps you could consider partnering with others who do the same and develop some ways to work together to market, advertise and promote your crop. Perhaps you could work together to find more efficient ways to distribute your crop. Perhaps, you could partner with a university and offer to let them do research on your crop or production practices or even some sort of nutritional study. Perhaps there is some new technology or equipment that would enhance food safety or disease control or longevity of the product.

Also, consider the trends of more people wanting to buy fresh, locally grown produce or organic produce and determine if there is a way to draw more consumer awareness to your product. Also, think of Agri-tourism and the interest of consumers to stop and cut a Christmas tree, pick apples, sample wine or attend an event.

Grants can range from $2,000-$30,000 so you can think big or think small. The application is somewhat simple to fill out and just asks for a narrative about your goals, expected outcomes and be able to justify your expenses. I would strongly encourage you to take advantage of this unique funding opportunity. Look for other organizations, producers or academia to partner with. You have a good 4 months until the application is due so that leaves plenty of time for brainstorming. Remember to check out ISDA’s website for the SCBG program guidance, application and score sheet. And as always if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment as your thoughts may spur others on as well.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Big One! Specialty Crop Block Grant

After months of anticipation and planning the big day has finally arrived!!! That’s right. USDA has announced and opened the application period for the next round of the Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) Program. Each State Department of Agriculture is eligible to receive an allocation of the $55 million set aside under Section 10109 of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008. Allocations are determined by the amount of Specialty Crop Production that occurs in the state. Departments of Agriculture are the only applicants but they are strongly encouraged to involve industry groups, academia, and community-based organizations in the development of applications that “solely” enhance the Specialty Crop Industry.

The State of Indiana will have $397,831.21 available for projects enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops through the following issues affecting the specialty crop industry: increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops; improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems; assisting all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain in developing “Good Agricultural Practices:, “Good Handling Practices”, “Good Manufacturing Practices”, investing in specialty crop research, including organic research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes; enhancing food safety; developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops; pest and disease control; and sustainability. Other options are market promotion; for domestic or international promotion of qualified Indiana food and agricultural products, or distribution to mitigate trade barriers that prevent or slow entry of qualified Indiana food and agricultural products into foreign markets.

ISDA would like to encourage all Specialty Crop organizations and partners to consider applying for funding this year. The applications are due June 25th, 2010 and are considered relatively easy to fill out. Check out ISDA’s website for the SCBG program guidance, application and score sheet.

Friday, January 22, 2010

National Organic Certification Cost Share Program

While this program isn’t technically considered a grant, it is a funding opportunity that I wanted to make Indiana Organic Producers aware of. The Indiana State Department of Agriculture offers the USDA National Organic Certification Cost Share Program to Organic Producers in the state who become organically certified or re-certified between October 1, 2009 and September 30, 2010. This program will reimburse producers for 75% of the cost of their certification or recertification up to $750.

The application is relatively easy and can be found on ISDA’s website at along with a “New Vendor form” which allows the state to reimburse producers through direct deposit. These forms will need to be sent along with copies of their organic certificate, invoice and proof of payment (cancelled check, money order or bank statement.) If you do not have these documents, contact your certifier and request them, as they are all require in order to receive the reimbursement.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Getting Registered and Ready to Apply for Federal Grants

The information I’m going to share with you today only pertains to companies, state or local governments, academia or research institutions, not-for-profit or any other institution that plans to apply for federal grants. In order to actually apply with the federal government you will need to get registered and obtain some identification numbers before you submit that first application. Several times I have seen people find their grant and are ready to apply, yet didn’t realize they need these registrations until it is too late. These registrations do take some time to process, so it is best to at least start the process in obtaining them now and, once you do find a grant you will be ready to apply and can submit your federal grant application without having to backpedal to get registered.

The first step in the process of getting registered is to apply for a Data Universal Number (DUNS). This is a one time process you will go through but again, it is required for all federal grant applications. Obtaining this number could take up to two weeks depending on the complexity of your organization. The form can be filled out and applied for directly on line at:

Information required for a DUNS consist of: Organization name, address, phone, CEO/Owner, Legal structure of the organization (corporation, partnership, proprietorship), year organization founded, Primary line of business, total number of employees.

After you receive your DUNS you will next need to register for a Central Contractor Registration (CCR) which basically sets you up to do business with the federal government. This form will ask for contact information on people who perform certain roles within your organization, such as Accountant/Treasurer or Directors/Presidents, but will also ask more detailed information about what all your organization does. The online site to register for this is and can take a couple of days to process.

Lastly, once both the DUNS and CCR are complete you will need to register as an Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) with This is the easiest step in the process but requires both your DUNS and CCR in order to obtain. Once both of these numbers are entered you will be given a username and password for and then you can officially apply for federal grants!!

I know it takes time to obtain these registrations but like I said if you get started now you will be all ready to go once that perfect grant opportunity comes along.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Did you know Indiana is a major exporter of food and agricultural products?!?!? According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) the U.S. exported over $115 billion in food and agricultural products in 2008. Indiana exported $2.4 billion in food and agricultural products in 2007 and is consistently the tenth leading agricultural exporting state. The ERS further estimates the value of one in three production acres in the U.S. and Indiana to be exported to international customers.

That being said I wanted to highlight a recently opened grant by USDA called the Federal State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) Grant in this week’s blog post. This grant will fund research projects that address barriers challenges, and opportunities in marketing, transporting, and distributing US food and agricultural products domestically and internationally. Eligible agricultural categories include livestock, livestock products, food and feed crops, fish and shellfish, horticulture, viticulture, apiary and forest products as well as processed or manufactured products derived from such commodities.

Please note that applications have to be submitted by state departments of agriculture or state agricultural experiment stations, but funds can flow through these organizations to yours. Applications are due February 10, 2010 and the average sized grant award is $50,000. And more details can be found by visiting this link;

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