Grants to Start a Small Farm

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There are federal grants to assist small farmers.
There are federal grants to assist small farmers. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

The federal government provides grants for small farmers to purchase farmland. These grants are intended to assist in the cost of constructing and remodeling housing and other farm facilities. In addition, the funding can be used toward conserving existing farmland. Applicants must meet all requirements set by the grant program to be considered for funding. Usually, grants do not have to be repaid. However, some federal programs ask the recipient to match a percentage of the money awarded to them.

Farmland Protection Program

The Farmland Protection Program is managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program is designed to protect farmland and ranches from being destroyed and used for projects that are not related to agriculture. Partnering with government and tribal organizations, this program purchases easements and awards the farmland to new and small farmers. Each applicant must provide a business plan outlining their ideas for conservation of the land. Tribal communities, private organizations and smaller farmers are encouraged to apply. The recipient of this grant must match 25 percent of the amount awarded. In addition, the recipient is responsible for administrative fees for acquiring easements.

Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program

Small farmers and ranchers can apply for grant funding through the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program. The funding covers costs related to training and assistance with farm machinery. Also, funds can be used toward purchasing farmland from retired farmers for conservation and teaching purposes. Small organizations, tribal communities and colleges are encouraged to apply for this grant. Winning applicants must match 25 percent of the awarded amount.

Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants

The Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants program funds small farmers who need housing for their workers. The USDA provides these funds to cover the cost of land purchases and construction fees for seasonal housing for laborers. In addition, grant funds can be used to build facilities on the farm, such as laundromats, daycare centers and dining halls for day laborers. To receive this grant, workers must be U.S. citizens and earn most of their income from farming. Successful applicants must match 10 percent of the grant.

Agriculture Research, Education Basic and Applied Research Federal Grants

The Agriculture Research, Education Basic and Applied Research Federal Grants provide money to schools and nonprofit organizations to buy land and supplies to start small farms for scientific research and education. As of March 2011, recipients of these grants are awarded $5,000.

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