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

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