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havenjm

Government grants

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I was wondering if anyone has successfully utilized government grant programs to fund agricultural projects or development. I'm specifically interested in grants for procuring land, but would love to hear first hand accounts from anyone who has received federal or state grants for farm development.

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Hi Haven,

 

I'm not aware of any grant program for land purchase, but there are some low-interest loans available from the Farm Service Agency if you qualify.

 

I have received grants from the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service for fencing, rotational grazing, water line construction, and most recently, a high tunnel for out of season vegetable production.

 

NRCS programs vary from state to state, and even by counties within some of the larger states, so your milage may vary.

 

There are also some programs that are specifically targeted to young and beginning farmers.

 

Be aware, however, that free money is never truly free. Don't make the mistake of allowing the grant funding to drive your farming decisions. Make your plans and see if there's a grant that will assist you with little or no alterations to your plans.

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Hi Haven,

 

I'm not aware of any grant program for land purchase, but there are some low-interest loans available from the Farm Service Agency if you qualify.

 

I have received grants from the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service for fencing, rotational grazing, water line construction, and most recently, a high tunnel for out of season vegetable production.

 

NRCS programs vary from state to state, and even by counties within some of the larger states, so your milage may vary.

 

There are also some programs that are specifically targeted to young and beginning farmers.

 

Be aware, however, that free money is never truly free. Don't make the mistake of allowing the grant funding to drive your farming decisions. Make your plans and see if there's a grant that will assist you with little or no alterations to your plans.

Thanks for the advice Bill. I certainly will try to avoid signing off on anything that forces me to bastardize the concept I'm putting together. I have found a couple of programs in Massachusetts that I believe allow for grant money to be used for the purchase of land, but the grantee must match 25% of the grant.

 

Is the process, in your experience, hellish and difficult, or do they work to help you out? Have you ever failed to get grants that you've applied for, or have you always been successful? What are the things that determine success or failure? Etc

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Hi Haven,

 

I started out working with a soil conservationist at the NRCS office. We worked out some ideas for how we might salvage a piece of prime farmland that had been badly abused by a string of dairy farmers who grew silage corn on it year in and year out without rotation and with very little returned to the soil.

 

Because of the soil types, the terrain, and the location of the land, it gets lots of points in the ranking system that NRCS uses to make funding decisions. One of the sadder facts of NRCS funding is that you are more likely to get funded if your practices (or those of the operations that preceded you) are bad for the environment.

 

Any way, we never applied for a program that the soil conservationist didn't think I had a really good shot at getting funding for. She handled most of the paperwork, based on our conversations and e-mails.

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I was wondering if anyone has successfully utilized government grant programs to fund agricultural projects or development. I'm specifically interested in grants for procuring land, but would love to hear first hand accounts from anyone who has received federal or state grants for farm development.

 

Hi,

I haven't received grants, but I've worked in conservation helping local farmers obtain grants for nutrient management and other programs. As Bill said, you need to develop a close relationship with your NRCS conservationist. Potential grantees are scored and the higher points you have, the better your chances of receiving a grant...on other words, you need to be serious about your operation. You won't get any money for procuring land.

 

You also need to put some investment into your project. The grants usually don't ask for much, but you also have to put some investment into your project. It used to be 90/10 -- EQUIP provided 90%, the landowner gave 10%. It doesn't seem like much, but when you're doing a concreted barnyard with stormwater runoff, and a manure pit for a cattle operation, it can get into some pretty high dollars...

 

Check out the NRCS website for funding availability on programs in your region -- and read (and support!) the USDA farm bill. It goes up for Congressional funding every few years and the emphasis on certain programs can change.

 

ETA - hit "send" by accident :)

 

Liz

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Hi Haven,

 

I started out working with a soil conservationist at the NRCS office. We worked out some ideas for how we might salvage a piece of prime farmland that had been badly abused by a string of dairy farmers who grew silage corn on it year in and year out without rotation and with very little returned to the soil.

 

Because of the soil types, the terrain, and the location of the land, it gets lots of points in the ranking system that NRCS uses to make funding decisions. One of the sadder facts of NRCS funding is that you are more likely to get funded if your practices (or those of the operations that preceded you) are bad for the environment.

 

Any way, we never applied for a program that the soil conservationist didn't think I had a really good shot at getting funding for. She handled most of the paperwork, based on our conversations and e-mails.

 

 

 

 

 

Also, I think the grantee also has to pay taxes on the grant money received as income, but I'm not 100% sure on this....could vary by grant -- that might have been Chesapeake Bay money program I'm thinking of ....

 

Liz

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We got a govt grant for fencing and irrigation. As others have mentioned, had to pay a percentage and did pay taxes. I didn't run into any problems. Worked with our Grazing Specialist at the SWCD on project plan. Am very grateful for these programs - we never could have afforded the improvements on our own. Hope to get a grant for waste management in future. Have not heard of any programs for procuring land. When we purchased our farmland, we got a loan from FSA.

 

Kim

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Grant income is taxable and is reported to the IRS. The EQIP program in NH doesn't require a specific match. The various practices have set prices -- a woven wire perimeter fence for sheep was priced at $4.75 per running foot the year I did it, for instance. I often provide the labor, which helps keep things under the budget, but you could just about hire it done for that price.

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