Professional Development Program






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Unit 3: Managing the Farm/Ranch Business for Long-Term Success

Granting Institutions

Grants – funds that business owners don’t have to repay – are another significant source of financing for start-up businesses in sustainable agriculture. Grants can range from a couple thousand dollars to a couple hundred thousand dollars depending on the granting organization’s guidelines. The advantage of grants, of course, is that they require no repayment. However, they are not “free money” as they require some service in return. When applying for grants, it is important to plan well in advance (the granting process typically takes at least one year) and invest time in crafting the grant proposal.
For a complete listing and description of funding sources for sustainable agriculture, see Building Sustainable Farms Ranches and Communities. A summary of several USDA granting opportunities for individual farmers/ranchers, cooperatives, value-added business owners and other rural entrepreneurs is provided below. Click on each link below to learn more:
  • Value-Added Producers Grant
  • Value-Added Producers Grant: Grant funds may be used for planning activities, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy. Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups and majority-controlled, producer-based business ventures.

  • Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program
  • Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program: This program is designed to increase food security in communities by bringing the whole food system together to assess strengths, establish linkages and create systems that improve self-reliance of community members (i.e. community food systems). Grants are awarded to private, non-profit organizations but farmer involvement is a key aspect of this program.

  • Rural Business Development Grant
  • Rural Business Development Grant: This program is designed to support targeted technical assistance, training and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas that have fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in gross revenues. Programmatic activities are separated into enterprise or opportunity type grant activities.

  • Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
  • The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, administered through four regional offices, awards competitive grants for research and education conducted cooperatively by farmers, ranchers, researchers and ag professionals to create and enhance farm and ranch systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities. SARE offers grants specifically for farmers and ranchers to conduct research or explore new business opportunities. To learn more about the producer grants in your region visit: SARE Grant Information.

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