Family Farmers and Economic Stimulus: Funding Opportunities

Click here to download Funding Opportunities for Investing in Family Farm Centered Food Systems as a pdf file.

Right now, numerous funding opportunities from several federal agencies can be harnessed to create thriving local and regional food systems with family farmers at their base. Several of these programs are underutilized; others often award the same recipients year after year, squandering opportunities to advance the reach of the Good Food Movement. Still other programs are just now being recognized as opportunities for investing in family farmers and local and regional food systems.

While many of the opportunities highlighted below are part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the 2008 Farm Bill, or both, we issue a challenge to think outside the box and consider funding possibilities that cross sectors and foster new collaborations. Taking advantage of these opportunities can forge regional food markets, rejuvenate "agriculture in the middle" and stimulate local economies all at once.

Tractor icon = funding opportunities for which farmers and ranchers are eligible.


Working In Concert: Food Systems and Rural Development
Whether by encouraging innovative marketing strategies or through new infrastructure like food storage facilities, the following grant and loan programs offer great promise for utilizing local and regional food systems to spur rural economic development across the United States.

Business & Industry Loan ProgramTractor icon

Community Facilities Program

Economic Development Administration Programs

Rural Cooperative Development Grants

Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program

Rural Business Opportunity Grants

Rural Business Enterprise Grants

Value-Added Producer Grant ProgramTractor icon


Linking Food Systems with Public Health & Nutrition
There are a number of new and existing programs that enable public health and nutrition goals to be strategically linked with the development of local, family farm economies. Below are some resources for exploring these important connections.

ACHIEVE Healthy Communities Program

Communities Putting Prevention to Work Program

Farmers' Market Nutrition Program

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program


The Heart of Community Food Security
With obesity, diabetes and other chronic conditions related to poor nutrition disproportionately impacting rural, low-income and minority communities, access to affordable, healthful foods is a critical element of food security in the United States. The following programs offer unique opportunities to include local and regional food systems as a central strategy in achieving community food security.

Community Development Block Grants

Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program

Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program

Community Outreach Partnership Centers Grant

Community Service Block Grants

Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development Center Program


Agriculture and the Green Economy
It is a natural fit for those interested in local and regional food systems to work in tandem with the larger movement toward a green economy. Numerous opportunities exist to bolster on-farm income with renewable energy endeavors, establish a new "green" workforce, and expand community infrastructure to support more sustainable food systems founded on the hard work of family farmers.

Biomass Crop Assistance ProgramTractor icon

Brownfields Development Program

Rural Energy for America ProgramTractor icon

Training Grants for Green Jobs and Emerging IndustryTractor icon


From the Ground Up: Support For Farmers and Ranchers
At the heart of every food system is the individual farmer or rancher. Investments at the farm level are essential for the stability and prosperity of local and regional food systems, which in turn contribute to the economic and social fabric of their communities. The following programs are available for farmers and ranchers, or are otherwise targeted in a way that directly enhances farmer and rancher livelihoods.

Farm Service Agency's Farm Loan ProgramsTractor icon

Farm Storage Facility Loan ProgramTractor icon

Farmers' Market Promotion Program

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program


Knowledge Is Power: Research and Information Services
Many resources are available to support research initiatives that can be utilized to grow the body of knowledge that supports local and regional food system development. They can also better equip individuals and organizations to do the legwork of building these systems from the ground up.

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative

Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural AreasTractor icon

Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program

Small Business Innovation Research Program

Sustainable Agriculture Research and EducationTractor icon

Corporation for National and Community Service Volunteers


Farm Aid maintains that an investment in local and regional family-farm based food systems is an investment in the health and prosperity of all Americans, the communities in which they reside, and the economies that keep them afloat and profitable.

The list above is by no means exhaustive, but covers a wide range of programs that traditionally were designed for and utilized by narrow audiences. The challenge before us is to think creatively about funding resources, prospects for cross-sector collaboration and community mobilization strategies that can leverage these opportunities. This is a critical element to growing the Good Food Movement and a needed step in building a better future for us all.

EXPANDED LISTINGS


Working In Concert: Food Systems and Rural Development


Tractor icon Business and Industry Loan Program


  • Description: Through the Business and Industry (B&I) Loan program, USDA co-signs on guaranteed loans to provide rural businesses with affordable capital. USDA promises to pay a portion of any loss a business owner cannot repay, which lowers the lender's risk and allows for more favorable interest rates and terms to the borrower. B&I loans are to be used for purchasing and refurbishing assets and refinancing debt. About $100 million will be set aside for local and regional food projects in FY 2010, with priority given to underserved rural populations.
  • Award Type: Guaranteed loans
  • Maximum Award: Up to $10 million; some special exceptions for loans up to $25 million
  • Who's Eligible: Nonprofit organizations that are lending institutions; other lenders to business owners in eligible rural areas. Eligible business owners may be cooperatives, nonprofits, corporations, Indian tribes, public bodies and individuals. Eligible rural areas include any area with 50,000 residents or less, excluding urban areas that are contiguous or adjacent to these areas. Cooperative processing facilities can be located in non-rural areas as long as the facility serves local farmers and improves the farm economy.
  • Timelines: The loan program is ongoing, but applications for extra funds from the Stimulus Bill (ARRA) must be submitted by September 15, 2010. Groups are encouraged to apply at any time.
  • More information: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/busp/b&I_gar.htm. Also visit the Rural Development Field Office locator at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/recd_map.html to find your State Rural Development Office.

Community Facilities Program


  • Description: The Community Facilities Program provides loans and grants for the construction, acquisition, or renovation of community facilities or for purchasing equipment for community projects. Over $930 million in ARRA funds will go toward this program, which USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative envisions can be used to encourage the development of farmers markets, school and community kitchens, community food banks, food storage or distribution centers and food preparation centers. This program is ideal for non-profits and cooperatives interested in building food system infrastructure, though, importantly, funds cannot be used for any commercial purpose.
  • Award Type: Direct loans, guaranteed loans, grants
  • Maximum Award: Varies by project and community type
  • Who's Eligible: Nonprofit organizations, local governments, tribal governments. The financing of "essential community facilities" applies to rural areas, which can have no more than 20,000 residents.
  • Timelines: The next Request for Applications (RFA) will be released in September of 2010.
  • More information: General: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rHS/cf/cp.htm. Also visit the Rural Development Field Office locator at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/recd_map.html to find your State Rural Development Office.

Economic Development Administration Programs


  • Description: The Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) has many programs that support the construction or rehabilitation of public infrastructure. These projects are designed to retain jobs, attract capital and provide technical assistance and research to help communities cope with economic changes. The EDA has made investments in rural food and agriculture infrastructure projects before, and while local and regional food systems development has not been an explicit focus in the past, the EDA is interested in any proposal with significant job-creating potential, and with a focus on sustainable development.
  • Award Type: Competitive Grants
  • Maximum Award: Varies by program
  • Who's Eligible: Nonprofit organizations acting in cooperation with some public State entity
  • Timelines: Varies by program
  • More Information: For general program overviews see: http://www.eda.gov/AboutEDA/Programs.xml or contact regional EDA offices: http://www.eda.gov/AboutEDA/Regions.xml.

Rural Cooperative Development Grants


  • Description: USDA encourages the development or improvement of effective cooperative organizations through its Rural Cooperative Development Grants. These funds help establish and operate institutions, such as vegetable processing and marketing cooperatives or community development credit unions, with the purpose of improving rural economies. By strengthening marketing opportunities for agricultural producers, this program can be an important tool in developing strong local and regional food systems in communities across the United States.
  • Award Type: Grants
  • Maximum Award: $200,000 with a 25% matching fund requirement.
  • Who's Eligible: Nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions.
  • More information: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/coops/rcdg/rcdg.htm. Also visit the Rural Development Field Office locator at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/recd_map.html to find your State Rural Development Office.

Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program


  • Description: The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) was created in the 2008 Farm Bill with the purpose of empowering rural entrepreneurs to establish new businesses or continue existing rural microenterprises. Through RMAP, USDA will provide grants to "Microenterprise Development Organizations" that offer training, technical assistance or small loans to new and existing rural small businesses. The program fills an important void left by other similar lending programs at the federal level, which tend to focus on non-rural communities. RMAP will have $13 million available for 2010, at least $4 million mandated in 2011 and $3 million mandated in 2012.
  • Award Type: Microloans and Grants
  • Maximum Award: Loans of less than $50,000; Grant limits not yet announced by USDA
  • Who's Eligible: Nonprofit organizations, Indian tribes, or public institutions of higher education
  • More information: USDA does not yet have a website for this program, but information is available from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition at http://sustainableagriculturecoalition.org/publications/grassrootsguide/local-food-systems-rural-development/rural-micro-entrepeneur-assistance/ or on the Center for Rural Affairs website: http://www.cfra.org/policy/micro/federal-micro-program. 

Rural Business Opportunity Grants Program


  • Description: The Rural Business Opportunity Grants Program (RBOG) promotes sustainable economic development in rural communities of exceptional need through training and technical assistance for business development, rural entrepreneurs and business managers, rural business incubators, and economic development officials. Funds also assist economic development planning. These funds could be leveraged for local food system development through projects that focus on food businesses and community food enterprises.
  • Award Type: Competitive Grants
  • Maximum Award: $50,000 for projects serving one state; $150,000 for projects serving two or more states; $250,000 for project periods of up to two years
  • Who's Eligible: Nonprofit organizations, public bodies, Indian tribes, and cooperatives with primarily rural members. RBOG serves rural areas, which this program defines as areas with 50,000 residents or less, excluding any urban area contiguous or adjacent to such areas.
  • Timelines: Final applications are due June 28, 2010. The anticipated award date is September 15, 2010.
  • More information: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/ga/trbog.htm. Also visit the Rural Development Field Office locator at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/recd_map.html to find your State Rural Development Office. 

Rural Business Enterprise Grants Program


  • Description: The Rural Business Enterprise Grants Program (RBEG) provides grants for rural projects that finance and facilitate the development of small and emerging rural businesses. They can fund distance learning networks and employment-related adult education programs, and assist with business development. Funds can also be used to acquire and develop land, or to construct buildings, plants, equipment, access roads, parking areas, and utility and service extensions. USDA's Know Your Farmers, Know Your Food initiative envisions RBEG funds being used for rural food processing businesses, facility planning, financing, constructing or refurbishing; or for training farmers to produce in coordination with a facility.
  • Award Type: Grants
  • Maximum Award: None, though priority is given to smaller projects
  • Who's Eligible: Rural governments or public entities, Indian tribes, and nonprofit organizations
  • Timelines: Interested applicants should contact their Rural Development Office to determine eligibility and begin the application process.
  • More information: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/busp/rbeg.htm. Also visit the Rural Development Field Office locator at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/recd_map.html to find your State Rural Development Office. 

Tractor icon Value-Added Producer Grant Program


  • Description: Through the Value-Added Producer Grant program (VAPG), USDA provides grants to producers who process or market their raw products to add value to their businesses and retain a higher portion of the retail dollar. VAPG awards planning grants for activities like business plan development, as well as working capital grants for needs like labor, inventory, advertising and so forth. The 2008 Farm Bill includes "locally-produced" marketing as an eligible activity. In addition, USDA is reserving 10% of these funds to develop local and regional supply networks. Another 10% of funds are available for both beginning or socially-disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and small or midsized farms and ranches.
  • Award Type: Competitive Grants
  • Maximum Award: $300,000 for working capital grants; $100,000 for planning grants
  • Who's Eligible: Independent producers, farmer or rancher cooperatives, producer groups, majority-controlled producer-based business ventures, and nonprofits (which must be farmer controlled in certain circumstances).
  • More Information: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/coops/vadg.htm


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Linking Food Systems with Public Health & Nutrition


CDC's ACHIEVE Healthy Communities Program


  • Description: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) ACHIEVE (Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and EnVironmental changE) Healthy Communities develop and implement strategies to prevent or manage risk factors for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and arthritis. Through this program, the CDC funds selected national organizations, which provide technical support and funding to selected communities. In this way, ACHIEVE harnesses the experience and expertise of its national partners to strengthen community leadership and activate change around the country. The holistic approach to prevention lends itself well to local and regional food system architects.
  • Award Type: Competitive Grants, covering 3-year periods.
  • Maximum Award: Varies. Most ACHIEVE funds are split between Category A and Category B recipients. Category A recipients re-grant to local organizations while Category B recipients are responsible for promotion and dissemination of effective tools and do not re-grant.
  • Who's Eligible: Category A recipients include the National Association of County and City Health Officials, the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, the National Recreation and Park Association, and the YMCA of the USA, who award funding to local entities and work closely with them on program development, implementation and evaluation, and also help them network nationwide.
  • Timelines: ACHIEVE has added 93 communities since January 2008 and aims to have 200 total participating by Spring 2013. Category A organizations will be adding approximately 40 new communities to the program each year, with the latest round of additions announced in February 2010.
  • More information: http://www.achievecommunities.org/Pages/default.aspx and http://www.cdc.gov/healthycommunitiesprogram/communities/achieve.htm. Contacts for the national organizations and for general inquiries can be accessed at http://www.achievecommunities.org/pages/contact.aspx.

Communities Putting Prevention to Work


  • Description: The CDC's Communities Putting Prevention to Work program is a major new funding initiative under ARRA that aims to address two leading preventable causes of death and disability: obesity and tobacco use. The goal is to reduce disease risk factors, prevent and/or delay chronic disease, promote wellness in children and adults and provide positive, sustainable health change in communities. Those interested in promoting local and regional food systems with programs in health and wellness may be able to access this funding stream. Organizations are encouraged to contact state and local health departments to inquire about partnering on these opportunities as soon as possible.
  • Award Type: Cooperative Agreements awarded on a competitive basis
  • Maximum Award: Varies
  • Who's Eligible: Funding will be awarded to health departments, but subcontracting with community groups is encouraged.
  • Timelines: Varies by program
  • More information: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/recovery and http://www.hhs.gov/recovery/programs/cdc/chronicdisease.html

Farmers' Market Nutrition Program


  • Description: In numerous states, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP), Senior Nutrition Program and Women Infant and Children (WIC) Program are participating in the Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), which allows FMNP coupons to be used to purchase a variety of fresh, nutritious and locally-grown produce. The central goal of the FMNP is to support local food systems through direct marketing opportunities. Special priority is granted to projects that increase access to local, fresh foods among low-income residents. When it is not practical for individual farmers to obtain a license to accept program benefits using standard Electronic Benefit Technology (EBT), a farmers' market sponsor can acquire a license to allow all eligible farmers to accept benefits through a centralized point-of-sale device.
  • Award Type: Competitive Grants
  • Maximum Award: $100,000
  • Who's Eligible: Nonprofit organizations, local governments, tribes, economic development corporations, agricultural cooperatives, and regional farmers market authorities
  • More information: General: http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/FMNP/FMNPfaqs.htm and http://www.fns.usda.gov/fsp/ebt/fm.htm; Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program: http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/SeniorFMNP/SFMNPmenu.htm; WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program: http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/FMNP/FMNPfaqs.htm#3

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program


  • Description: USDA envisions the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program as an integral part of the larger campaign against childhood obesity and efforts to improve the eating habits of our country's youth. Created in the 2002 Farm Bill, this program introduces elementary school children to a variety of produce they may otherwise never encounter. Participating schools can purchase fruits and vegetables through several means, including local producers, so long as they follow proper procurement guides. The 2008 Farm Bill expanded mandatory funding for this program with an additional $101 million in FY 2010 and $150 million in FY 2011.
  • Award Type: Grants
  • Maximum Award: Funding is allocated among States using a formula that allocates half of the funds equally among states and the rest based on State population. States will re-grant the money to elementary schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
  • Who's Eligible: All 50 States, the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories. The program is generally administered through State Departments of Education (a few states run the program through their Departments of Agriculture), via agreements with school food authorities.
  • Timelines: All funds remain available until expended, with new funding each fiscal year opening up in July.
  • More information: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/FFVP/FFVPdefault.htm


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The Heart of Community Food Security


Community Development Block Grants


  • Description: For 36 years, the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Community Development Block Grant program has offered grants geared toward poverty reduction, community revitalization and individual or community economic self-sufficiency. Those interested in promoting local and regional food systems may be able to access these grants. The following projects, if targeted to stimulate economic recovery and growth, could qualify: beginning farmer programs, community food distribution centers and integrated growing, processing, storage and distribution systems.
  • Award Type: Grants
  • Maximum Award: Varies
  • Who's Eligible: Local and state governments, who grant to eligible communities
  • Timelines: The 2010 application deadline passed in April.
  • More information: http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/communitydevelopment/programs/

Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program


  • Description: The Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Loan Guarantee Program is the loan provision of the Community Development Block Grants Program (CDBG), and finances economic development, housing development, public facilities rehabilitation and construction projects that benefit low- to -moderate-income people. Past funds have been used for food systems projects, such as creating farmers markets in communities with little access to fresh food.
  • Award Type: Guaranteed Loans
  • Who's Eligible: Metropolitan cities and urban counties (i.e. CDBG entitlement communities) and non-entitlement communities that apply with States who administer the CDBG program
  • Timelines: Grants are accepted on an on-going basis.
  • More information: http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/communitydevelopment/programs/108 or find your State Community Planning & Development Director at: http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/about/staff/fodirectors/.

Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program


  • Description: Since 1996, the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program has fought food insecurity by supporting projects that promote the self-sufficiency of low-income communities while addressing food, nutrition and farm issues. Eligible projects are designed to increase food security in communities by bringing "the whole food system" together to assess strengths, establish linkages, and create systems that improve the self-reliance of community members over their food needs. Funds can be used for infrastructure development and grants favor projects with creative, innovative marketing strategies.
  • Award Type: Competitive Grants
  • Maximum Award: Total awards of $10,000-$300,000 for 1-3 years, with no more than $125,000 to be expended per year. These one-time grants require dollar-for-dollar matching funds, though this can be achieved through in-kind donations.
  • Who's Eligible: Grants are intended to help eligible private nonprofit organizations that need a one-time infusion of federal assistance to establish and carry out multipurpose community food projects.
  • More information: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/nea/food/in_focus/hunger_if_competitive.html USDA has identified the Community Food Security Coalition (www.foodsecurity.org), Growing Power (www.growingpower.org), and World Hunger Year (www.whyhunger.org) as organizations that offer appropriate assistance for completing grant applications to this program. Interested groups in need of assistance should contact these organizations directly. Organizations can apply for these grants directly at www.grants.gov.

Community Outreach Partnerships Centers


  • Description: Community Outreach Partnerships Centers (COPC) grants are awarded to colleges or universities for projects that revitalize distressed communities in urban areas. Project types are diverse and have included food systems work, like the creation of a local urban agricultural enterprise.
  • Award Type: Competitive Grants
  • Maximum Award: Up to $400,000 for 2 or 3 years to establish and operate COPCs. Grantees must match at least 50% of research activities costs and 25% of outreach activities costs with contributions from private sources or State and local governments.
  • Who's Eligible: Colleges, universities and other institutions of higher education, with no restrictions on the characteristics of targeted communities.
  • Timelines: HUD publishes an annual Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) and an application kit for the COPC Program.
  • More information: http://www.hud.gov/progdesc/copc.cfm Application kits are available from the University Partnerships Clearinghouse 1-800-245-2691 or http://www.oup.org/

Community Service Block Grants


  • Description: Administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Community Service Block Grants (CSBG) work to alleviate poverty by supporting programs that provide employment, education, housing, emergency services and nutritional counseling in low-income communities. CSBG has supported several projects relevant to local and regional food systems, including community gardens, community canneries, food buying groups, food banks, nutrition and food preparation counseling, and group meal provisions.
  • Award Type: Block Grants
  • Maximum Award: Varies each year. HHS distributes money as mandatory block grants to States and Indian tribes, which re-grant 90% of the funds to state and local organizations on a discretionary basis.
  • Who's Eligible: States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Territories, and Indian Tribes and tribal organizations, all of whom may re-grant to organizations with demonstrated expertise in providing training to low-income individuals, families and communities or to organizations officially designated as a Community Action Agency.
  • Timelines: Each July, HHS issues a notice reminding State and Indian Tribes to submit annual applications. State allocations are made in the Fall. In FY 2010, over $680 million were allocated to states, and nearly $5 million were allocated to Indian Tribes.
  • More information: For general program information visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/csbg/aboutus/factsheets.htm. Organizations interested in accessing funds should find their regional staff contacts at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/csbg/aboutus/staffassignements.html.

Healthy Urban Enterprise Development Center Program


  • Description: The 2008 Farm Bill authorized this grant program to establish and support one Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development (HUFED) Center. The HUFED Center is meant to increase access to healthy affordable foods (including locally-produced agricultural products) to underserved communities through innovative marketing and distribution systems. USDA recently announced its grant award to the Wallace Center at Winrock International to establish and maintain the center. The HUFED Center will provide training and technical assistance for food enterprises and award sub-grants to eligible entities for healthy food enterprise development over the next several years. In providing technical assistance and grants, the HUFED Center shall give priority to applications that include projects to benefit underserved communities and develop market opportunities for small and midsized farms and ranches.
  • Award Type: Sub-grants, Technical Assistance
  • Who's Eligible: Nonprofit organizations
  • Timelines: 2010 letters of Inquiry were due to the Wallace Center in March.
  • More information: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/fo/healthyurbanfoodenterprisedevelopmentcenter.cfm or http://www.wallacecenter.org/our-work/current-initiatives/healthy-urban-food-enterprise-development-center. Contact the Wallace Center at hufed@winrock.org or 1-703-531-8810.


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Agriculture and the Green Economy


Tractor icon Biomass Crop Assistance Program


  • Description: The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) was established by the 2008 Farm Bill to promote the cultivation of highly energy-efficient bioenergy crops that show exceptional promise and to develop those new crops and cropping systems in a manner that preserves natural resources. BCAP provides financial assistance to producers or entities that deliver eligible biomass material to designated biomass conversion facilities for use as heat, power, bio-based products or biofuels. With the prospect of adding new on-farm income streams for producers, this program could be an important strand in a web of programs that restore the prosperity of family farms and build local and regional energy options for their communities.
  • Award Type: Direct payments, cost-share payments, and matching payments
  • Maximum Award: Farmers will be eligible to enter a 5-year agreement with USDA for annual or perennial crops or a 15-year agreement for woody biomass.
  • Who's Eligible: Farmers and ranchers or entities that deliver eligible biomass material to conversion facilities
  • Timelines: Check the Farm Service Agency (FSA) website for updates on FY 2010 Notice of Funds Availability.
  • More Information: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=cops&topic=bcap

Brownfields Development Program

  • Description: Through ARRA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provided $100 million to its Brownfields Development Program. This program turns once-contaminated properties into productive community assets, awarding eligible applicants through grants in job training, assessment, revolving loan fund and cleanup programs. While not typical of this program, the following projects that foster local and regional family farm food systems could be eligible: farmland reclamation, urban greenhouses, community garden or farm sites, organic transition, rebuilding food processing and manufacturing facilities, and renovating buildings to become community food distribution centers.
  • Award Type: Grants in Job Training, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund and Cleanup categories
  • Maximum Award: Job Training Grants are funded up to $200,000 over two years. Brownfields Assessment Grants are funded up to $200,000 over three years or for coalitions, up to $1,000,000 over three years. Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Grants are funded up to $1,000,000 over five years. Brownfields Cleanup Grants are funded up to $200,000 over three years.
  • Who's Eligible: State, local and tribal governments; land clearance authorities; quasi-governmental agencies; regional council or redevelopment agencies; states or legislatures; nonprofit organizations
  • Timelines: Most deadlines for the FY 2010 funding have passed. Check the EPA's website for information on application deadlines later this year.
  • More information: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/grant_info/index.htm

 

Tractor icon Rural Energy for America Program


  • Description: Administered by USDA's Rural Development Agency, the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is a new 2008 Farm Bill program that amends and combines previous Farm Bill energy programs. REAP provides cost-share awards for energy audits and renewable energy technologies, as well as grants and loans for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems. Eligible projects include systems that may be used to produce and sell electricity, offering exciting opportunities for additional on-farm revenue while contributing to energy needs at the local and regional level.
  • Award Type: Cost-share awards, grants and loans
  • Maximum Award: Varies
  • Who's Eligible: Farmers and ranchers who gain 50% or more of their gross income from agricultural operations, small rural businesses, and rural electric cooperatives. For the energy audit program, the following are also eligible: state, tribal and local governments; land-grant colleges or universities and other institutions of higher education; and rural electric cooperatives or public power entities. Grants to agencies or groups who assist farmers with energy audits and assessments are also available.
  • Timelines: In August, USDA's Notice of Funding Availability announced that $3 million will be available through REAP in FY 2010, with applications due by October 5, 2010. Directions for applying, and contact information for State Rural Development Coordinators who can help with the application process, can be found in the Federal Register announcement at: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-19335.pdf.
  • More information: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/farmbill/index.html or contact your State Rural Development Office

Tractor icon Training Grants for Green Jobs and Emerging Industry Sectors


  • Description: The ARRA dedicates $60 billion to "green jobs" and dedicates $750 million to a competitive grant program in job training for "high growth and emerging industry sectors." While alternative energy tops the administration's agenda, family farm-based local and regional food systems have an important role to play in green job generation. The Department of Labor (DOL) plans to use ARRA funds to prepare workers for green jobs.
  • Award Type: Training Grants
  • Maximum Award: Varies
  • Who's Eligible: Beginning farmers, immigrant farmers, those interested in fresh food processing or marketing positions and sustainable agriculture training initiatives are potential beneficiaries of these funds.
  • Timelines: Solicitations for Grant Applications administered by the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) will be published on www.grants.gov and in the Federal Register.
  • More information: http://www.doleta.gov/brg/GreenJobs


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From the Ground Up: Support For Farmers and Ranchers


Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program


  • Description: Beginning farmers are defined as producers who have 10 years or less of experience, and according to 2007 estimates they account for approximately 21% of family farmers. To address the needs of a new generation of farmers and ranchers entering the agricultural sector, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program funds initiatives that provide beginning farmers and ranchers with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. USDA targets 25% of funding to projects that address the needs of limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, including minorities, immigrants, women, and farm workers who want to become farmers.
  • Award Type: Competitive Cooperative Agreements
  • Maximum Award: $300,000
  • Who's Eligible: State, tribal and local governments; nonprofit organizations; colleges and universities; cooperative extensions; other appropriate partners
  • Timelines: The newest Request for Applications (RFA) can be accessed at http://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/rfas/bfrdp.html. Applications were due April 2010.
  • More information: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/fo/beginningfarmerandrancher.cfm or http://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/bfrdp/bfrdp.html. Applicants can apply directly at http://www.grants.gov.

Tractor icon Farm Service Agency's Farm Loan Programs


  • Description: Many existing and aspiring farmers and ranchers lack the sufficient assets or repayment capacity to qualify for commercial loans. The Farm Service Agency's (FSA) Farm Loan Program offers direct and guaranteed loans to producers to purchase land, construct or refurbish buildings, purchase equipment or livestock, establish permanent crops or finance annual crops. Loans can be used to refinance debts in some cases. In addition, the program targets some funding for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
  • Award Type: Direct and guaranteed loans for ownership and operation.
  • Maximum Award: $300,000 for direct loans; $1,094,000 (adjusted annually) for guaranteed loans.
  • Who's Eligible: Farmers and ranchers who are not ready to obtain financing from commercial lending sources. Targeted funds are available for beginning farmers and ranchers and for socially-disadvantaged farmers who are women, African Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders. Retiring farmers may use this program to transfer land to new generations of farmers.
  • Timelines: Program is ongoing
  • More information: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=fmlp&topic=bfl

Tractor icon Farm Storage Facility Loan Program


  • Description: On-farm storage can help farmers maximize profits. It can be especially critical for producers growing fruits and vegetables for fresh markets, allowing them to store and preserve produce rather than harvesting just before leaving for market. USDA's Farm Storage Facility Loans program finances the purchase, construction, or refurbishment of farm storage facilities and new cold storage buildings, including prefabricated buildings with a useful life of at least 15 years. Financing may also cover site preparation and cooling and electrical equipment.
  • Award Type: Direct loans
  • Maximum Award: $500,000, with terms of 5,7, 10 or 12 years. Down payment and security requirements vary with loan sizes, and interest rates are fixed with rates comparable to Treasury Securities.
  • Who's Eligible: Individuals and businesses that produce eligible commodities, including fresh fruits and vegetables as well as hay and renewable biomass. Applicants must meet additional requirements.
  • Timelines: Check with your local FSA for specific application deadline information
  • More information: To read more about eligible commodities, facilities, upgrades, cost items, and other requirements, visit: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=prsu&topic=flp-fp

Farmers' Market Promotion Program


  • Description: The Farmers' Market Promotion Program (FMPP) was created through an amendment of the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976 and is administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service. In the 2008 Farm Bill, the FMPP became mandatory for the first time and now has $30 million in funds for fiscal years 2009-2012. The grants authorized by the FMPP are targeted to help communities support local food systems and farmers through the improvement or expansion of domestic farmers markets, roadside stands, community supported agriculture programs and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities. A minimum of 10% of funds are set-aside for new electronic benefits transfer (EBT) programs that expand farmers market access to low-income individuals participating in federal nutrition programs.
  • Award Type: Competitive Grants
  • Maximum Award: $100,000. Applicants are limited to no more than one grant in a fiscal year, and starting in FY 2011, grantees cannot receive grants in two consecutive years.
  • Who's Eligible: Agricultural cooperatives, producer networks, producer associations, local governments, non-profit corporations, public benefit corporations, economic development corporations, regional farmers market authorities, and Tribal Governments.
  • Timelines: Applications were due April 15, 2010.
  • More information: See http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/FMPP for FY 2010 guidelines.

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program


  • Description: This flexible grant program, administered by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, provides state assistance for the production of specialty crops. Funds are used to enhance the competitiveness of fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and nursery crops. This program is a tool to strengthen local and regional food systems by increasing the viability of "buy local" programs, establishing premium markets for organic produce, improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of distribution systems, bolstering marketing programs and establishing producer cooperatives for specialty crop growers.
  • Award Type: Block Grants to State Departments of Agriculture
  • Maximum Award: Varies by state
  • Who's Eligible: Departments of Agriculture in all fifty states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico who often re-grant to local organizations.
  • Timelines: Application Timelines are due July 29, 2010.
  • More information: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/SCBGP Interested parties should contact their state department of agriculture.


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Knowledge Is Power: Research and Information Services


Agriculture and Food Research Initiative


  • Description: The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) is a new, overarching competitive grant program to provide funding for fundamental and applied research, extension and education to address the food and agricultural sciences. Grants address priorities in the following broad research areas: plant health and production and plant products; animal health and production and animal products; food safety, nutrition, and health; renewable energy, natural resources, and environment; agriculture systems and technology; and agriculture economics and rural communities. Several of the programs under AFRI can be creatively harnessed to build strong local and regional food systems.
  • Award Type: Competitive Grants, which may have terms of up to 10 years
  • Maximum Award: Varies
  • Who's Eligible: State agricultural experiment stations, colleges and universities, university research foundations, other research institutions and organizations, Federal agencies, national laboratories, private organizations or corporations, individuals, and any group consisting of two or more of the aforementioned entities.
  • Timelines: For updates on deadlines for various AFRI programs, visit: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/afri/afri_program_deadline_dates.html
  • More Information: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/fo/agriculturalandfoodresearchinitiativeafri.cfm

Tractor icon Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas


  • Description: Funded by USDA's Rural Business-Cooperative Service, the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) program provides information to farmers, ranchers and other individuals on a variety of sustainable agricultural practices, encouraging their adoption as a way to maintain or improve profits, produce high quality food and reduce adverse environmental impacts of farm operations. A number of high quality publications have been issued by ATTRA. ATTRA can also provide technical assistance for producers interested in developing marketing cooperatives.
  • Award Type: This is not an award program, but offers valuable information and technical assistance
  • Who's Eligible: Farmers, ranchers, market gardeners, extension agents, researchers, educators, farm organizations, and others involved in commercial agriculture. Particularly emphasis is given to economically disadvantaged or traditionally underserved communities.
  • More information: http://www.attra.org

Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program


  • Description: The Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) is a matching grant program that provides funds to State Departments of Agriculture and other appropriate State agencies to explore barriers, challenges and new market opportunities for food and agricultural products and to encourage research and innovation that improves the performance of the marketing system. FSMIP funds support a wide range of applied research projects. The program's broad flexibility lends itself to a variety of programs that can bolster food systems based on family farm agriculture.
  • Award Type: Matching funds for State Departments of Agriculture and other State agencies
  • Maximum Award: Approximately 25 projects are funded each year, and the average grant is $50,000. In recent years, grants have ranged from $25,000 to $135,000.
  • Who's Eligible: State Departments of Agriculture, who may re-grant to local organizations
  • Timelines: Application deadlines for FY 2010 have passed.
  • More information: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/FSMIP.

Small Business Innovation Research Program


  • Description: Eleven federal agencies participate in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program each year. USDA's program is administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and awards competitive grants to qualified small businesses to support research endeavors that address scientific problems and opportunities in agriculture. SBIR does not award funds to establish businesses. Instead, it aims to stimulate private sector technical innovation, strengthen small businesses, increase private sector commercialization of USDA-supported innovations, and encourage innovation in women-owned and socially- or economically-disadvantaged small businesses.
  • Award Type: Competitive Research Grants
  • Maximum Award: SBIR Phase I grants are limited to $80,000 and a duration of 8 months and are open to any small business meeting SBIR eligibility requirements. SBIR Phase II grants are limited to $350,000 and for 24 months and are only open to previous Phase I awardees.
  • Who's Eligible: Small businesses, with no more than 500 employees. See the NIFA website for more information on eligibility requirements.
  • Timelines: Application deadlines for FY 2010 have passed. Phase I awardees will be announced in May 2010. Future deadlines for the program will be announced on the NIFA website.
  • More information: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/sbir/sbir.html

Tractor icon Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education


  • Description: The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program is a competitive grant-making and outreach program with the mission of advancing sustainable innovations to the whole of American agriculture. The sharing of project results is a cornerstone of the SARE program, with field days, workshops and conferences in every region, and an Outreach office producing an ever-growing library of books, bulletins, online resources and a vast archive of know-your-farmer profiles of SARE grantees. SARE is uniquely grassroots, with four regional offices administering the program and local experts guiding SARE through administrative councils. Some regions offer Graduate Student, Sustainable Community Innovation and Planning grants.
  • Award Type: Competitive grants
  • Maximum Award: Varies by program; awards range between $30,000 - $150,000+
  • Who's Eligible: Nonprofit organizations, researchers and individual producers
  • Timelines: Deadlines vary by program. Contact regional offices for details.
  • More information: http://www.sare.org

Corporation for National and Community Service Volunteers


  • Description: The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is an independent government agency that runs the AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) and Learn and Serve America (LSA) programs. Communities and organizations across the United States have utilized both of these programs to help launch local and regional food systems projects.
  • Award Type: Volunteers, whose compensation and living expenses are supported by CNCS
  • Maximum Award: For VISTA, grants may cover the full volunteer stipend, but not the administrative expenses of operating the program. LSA funds draw from non-competitive grants to State Education Agencies based on a statutory formula.
  • Who's Eligible: Nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities, local, state, or federal agencies
  • Timelines: Varies
  • More information: http://www.americorps.gov/for_organizations/apply/vista.asp or http://www.learnandserve.gov.


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