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Government Grants to Start Up a Farm

Government Grants to Start Up a Farm

by Ed Stine, Demand Media New buildings, equipment, land and livestock are a few expenses that government grants can pay for on farms.

New buildings, equipment, land and livestock are a few expenses that government grants can pay for on farms.

farm image by Richard McGuirk from

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Agriculture, like any business, comes with a long list of challenges and expenses when beginning. Many farmers turn to loans to start up, but those come with repayments with interest. Grants, on the other hand, don't require repayment. Although applicants often must compete for grants, the funding type can help farmers get through the initial stages.

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Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development

Agricultural producers can find training, education, outreach and technical assistance to help them start farms and ranches through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a division of the USDA, gives the grants to government offices and nonprofits at state, local, tribal and regional levels. Grants can pay for activities such as developing marketing strategies and land stewardship programs. The most money an organization can receive is $250,000 per year. At least 25 percent of funding must go to helping socially disadvantaged farmers, initiatives that address limited resources to new farmers, and programs that help farm workers who want to become farmers.

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Farm Labor Housing

One of the many challenges of starting up and operating a farm is finding people to help run one. These laborers also need housing. The USDA Rural Development office provides grants to buy, build, renovate and repair laborer housing through the Farm Labor Housing Grant and Loan program. Eligible applicants include individual farmers, farm associations, family farm corporations, government offices, American Indian tribes, nonprofits and farmworker associations. Grants are available to government offices, tribes, nonprofits and farmworker associations, and loans are available to everyone. Funding can pay for housing beyond basic living quarters such as childcare centers.

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Environmental Quality Incentives

A conventional agricultural producer can receive up to $20,000 per year to switch to organic farming from the USDA's Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The program is also open to people already certified in organic farming who want to expand their operations. Along with receiving as much as $20,000 for one year, grant recipients can also apply for up to $80,000 over six years. Eligible applicants must meet organic standards set by the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service.

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State Grants

Farmers can find grants and other financial assistance outside the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Many state government offices also provide aid. The Texas Department of Agriculture, for example, has the Young Farmer Grant program. Farmers between the ages of 18 and 46 can receive $5,000 to $10,000 to pay for operating costs, livestock, feed and other basic expenses. People trying to start up farms can contact their state and local agriculture department offices to find out what types of grants and other assistance they can apply for.

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About the Author

Ed Stine began his journalism career in 2009. He is a business reporter for a community newspaper in central Indiana and he also contributes to its lifestyles magazine. Stine has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Ball State University.

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Photo Credits

  • farm image by Richard McGuirk from

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