Did you know that 25% of all American farmers are beginning farmers? That means they started farming within the last 10 years.
With the average age of the American farmer rising to 57.5 since 2012, new farmers and farms are certainly a welcome phenomenon.
Starting a farm in this day and age is a noble endeavor. But most first-time farmers will need agriculture grants to get the necessary funds to start their business.
So what are the best grants to start a farm, or are there small farm grants to help existing farms? Let’s take a look at 6 agriculture grants that exist to support American farmers.
What is the State of American Farms?
Before we dive into the world of agriculture grants, it’s worth taking a look at the state of American farms. We all love to daydream about living a rural life, growing food and responding to the cycles of nature. But the truth is that American farmlands, farmers, and rural communities are in crisis.
Unfortunately, a lot of the news in recent years about farmlands in America is pretty dismal. 31 million acres of farmland were lost in the twenty years between 1992 and 2012. More than a third of those were some of our country’s best farmland.
Many farmers are finding themselves deep in debt and the suicide rate among farm communities is sadly quite high. New technologies, development, dropping staple commodity prices, and globalization all threaten farmers. It’s often an uphill battle for American farmers and ranchers to maintain their family business.
Wisconsin is losing two dairy farms every day, with farms steadily declaring bankruptcy. This grim situation is affecting both huge corporate farms and small family farms. Check out this article to learn more.
6 Agriculture Grants That Can Help Keep America Thriving
Many of the resources you’ll find online lump loans and grants into one category. It’s important to know that loans and grants are not synonymous. Loans have to be paid back, grants do not. So let’s take a look at 6 grants that can help keep America and its farms thriving.
1. Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP)
Organizations that help beginning farmers or ranchers can receive beginning farmer grants. These organizations might offer technical assistance initiatives, education, or mentoring to new farmers.The number of new farmers and ranchers is on a continuous decline. This program aims to give organizations funding to provide new farmers with much-needed resources.
2. Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
This program provides financial and technical assistance to American farmers. The goals are to improve environmental conditions and address natural resource concerns.
This is a voluntary conservation program for agricultural and forestry producers. Participation can lead to healthier soil, better habitats for wildlife, and cleaner air and water.
3. Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)
The purpose of these grants is to drive resource conservation innovation in both the private and public sectors.
Competitive in nature, these grants exist at both the state and national levels. Their goal is to support conservation efforts in agriculture for the next generation.
As a part of the 2018 Farm Bill, On-Farm Trials were authorized with incentive payments. These payments intend to offset the risk of utilizing innovative techniques and technologies.
4. Value-Added Processing and Marketing Grants
Value-added processing is a great way for farmers to further monetize their farm products and make more income. This is because, for example, you can sell a head of cabbage for maybe a few dollars, but a jar of sauerkraut for upwards of 7 dollars.
These grants exist with the hope of increasing farmers’ income. They do this by creating and expanding market opportunities. They achieve this by allowing them to produce new products they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
This is one of the great farm grants for females, as women farmers can be given priority. Socially-disadvantaged farmers or ranchers also can receive priority. This is also a useful small farm or first-time farmer grant. Small or medium-sized farms and ranches, as well as beginning farmers or ranchers, also receive preference.
5. Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP)
This grant exists to increase the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are vegetables, fruits, dried fruits, nursery crops, and tree nuts that are managed or cultivated by people and used for medicinal purposes, food, or aesthetic enjoyment.
6. Farm Aid Grants
Every year, the Farm Aid annual grant program awards hundreds of thousands of dollars to family farms and agriculture organizations. With grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000, Farm Aid also doles out $500 emergency grants to additionally help farm families.
This non-profit organization was started by musicians Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp in 1985. Dave Matthews joined the team in 2001. In the effort to help keep family farmers on their land, Farm Aid has raised $57 million since 1985.
Supporting Farmers is More Crucial Than Ever
Mountainous forces working against 21st-century American farmers. It’s more important than ever to make sure farmers can find the resources available to them. These resources can help their businesses and their families thrive.
Agriculture grants can help farms and ranches of any size get started, put in place new technologies, or respond to unexpected disasters. It’s important that American farmers are able to make a comfortable and reliable living. This ensures that we can continue to eat locally produced food and support the American economy.
What do you think the biggest threat to American farms is? Did I leave out a first-time farmer grant or other agricultural grants that you think are crucial? Let me know in the comments below. And don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog!