The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a leading source of grants for farmers. A grant is an issuance of money, like a loan, that does not need to be paid back. The grant is issued for a specific purpose, and there are a number of USDA grant options that may be used to drill a water well for any farm, including a beef farm.
National Integrated Water Quality Program
One grant option that is available to dig wells is the National Integrated Water Quality Program. This grant is issued by the USDA to farmers who will use scientific research and information to manage and improve the quality of water and groundwater resources. You may receive up to $750,000 for this type of undertaking, as of July 2011.
The Water Quality Program Grant is often issued to a large farm or group of farms looking to implement a water-preservation and water-quality-improvement initiative on a large scale. This grant may not be suitable for a small family farm. The USDA's Economic Research Service defines a small farm as one earning $50,000 or less, but its farm typology allows for sales up to $250,000 to be categorized as a small farm as of 2011.
Family & Small Farms Grant Program
You may be eligible for a number of grant programs under the Family & Small Farms category of the USDA. Among these is the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which issues over $19 million a year as of 2011 to individuals looking to start small farms or ranches. Even if your farm has been in existence for some time, this legislation provides for a farm that is operated by one or more persons who have less than 10 years' experience to qualify for funding. Over 30 percent of applicants receive approval on their grant applications. Full eligibility criteria for the grant can be found on the USDA website; apply early because funding is in limited supply each year.
Household Water Well System Grant Program
If your small beef farm is a not-for-profit, you may qualify under the Household Water Well System Grant Program of the USDA. You must apply on behalf of your organization to receive the grant funding. If you apply as an individual, you will be eligible to receive a loan rather than a grant. In this case, you may receive up to $8,000 of funding to drill your well as of July 2011, and you are guaranteed the low interest rate of 1 percent on the loan. Individuals have 20 years to repay this loan.
Local or State Grants
You may wish to go outside the USDA to seek grants for your beef farm. Most states have a department of agriculture that issues grants and loans to small farms. You may also be able to locate local grants encouraging development in a rural area. Check with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) to determine if your state is a member and if there are other local participants that may be issuing grants or loans.