Sheep producers raise sheep for meat and wool production. Sheep adapt to many situations, but those raising them must have enough land with good forage to keep sheep fed, adequate shelter for winter and sheep equipment including lamb pens. Producers must also have the means to market sheep products. Fortunately, governments and other funders provide grants to help.
Animal Welfare Approved
Animal Welfare Approved in Alexandria, Virginia, certifies and assists farmers in raising their animals outdoors on pasture or range. Farms certified as Animal Welfare Approved or that have completed the application for certification are eligible to apply for the organization's annual Good Husbandry Grants. Grants, which provide funds of up to $5,000 as of July 2011, are strictly for farm-animal welfare. In its grant-making, Animal Welfare Approved places emphasis on programs for mobile housing, genetics or breeding stock and on-farm processing equipment. Applications are available at its website.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program awards grants to farmers and ranchers on a competitive basis. Projects that spur innovations and improve farm profitability; are environmentally sound; and protect and revitalize communities are excellent candidates. Farmers and ranchers can apply for "Producer" grants, which generally range between $1,000 and $15,000, to test their ideas and share results with others nearby. "Farmer Rancher" grants are also available for some areas of the United States, with amounts ranging from $7,500 maximum for individuals to $22,500 maximum for groups, as of July 2011. Four regional councils of experts set priorities and guidelines for grants in every U.S. state and island protectorate. Application details and deadlines vary by region, but links are available online at the SARE website.
Agricultural Management Assistance
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Management Assistance program provides farmers and ranchers with cost-sharing for activities related to water conservation and quality, soil erosion and transitioning to organic farming. The land must be located in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia or Wyoming. In cost-sharing, the government provides 75 percent of the cost for approved practices. The program covers practices involving grazing, fencing, watering facilities, animal trails and walkways, and pasture and hay-land management, all of which must be implemented according to National Resource Conservation Service standards. To apply, applicants submit documents to their local National Resource Conservation Service or Conservation District office. Grantees sign three- to 10-year contracts. Payments are not more than $50,000 per fiscal year, with a multiyear limit of $150,000, as of July 2011.
The North Carolina Cooperative Extension offers WNC AgOptions grants to farmers who work to increase the economic viability of farms in Western North Carolina, including through livestock operations. Support is provided to farmers who are taking steps, through diversifying or expansion, to increase farm income. The program's goal is to fund projects that show means of developing alternative farm income to transitioning tobacco growers. Applicants contact their county cooperative extension office to set up an appointment to discuss and develop their projects.