Grants Available for Farmers

Federal Grants

Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)

Do you have an interesting idea? The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program offers grants to farmers and service providers to explore ideas that improve profitability, stewardship and quality of life in sustainable agriculture. Application materials are on the web; printed applications can be requested by calling 802-656-0471.

  • Farmer Grants help develop, refine, and demonstrate new sustainable techniques and to increase awareness and adoption of innovative ideas developed by farmers. Farmers test new crops, practices, and systems through on-site experiments, and share the results with other farmers. SARE detailed guide, How to Write a SARE Farmer Grant Application, helps farmers develop their application by providing examples and explanations of what makes a strong proposal, a checklist for Farmer Grant technical advisors, and a tip sheet specifically for extension agents. Grant awards are capped at $10,000. Farmer Grant applications are due in December.

  • Partnership Grants are for service providers who work directly with farmers-specifically Cooperative Extension, NRCS, state departments of agriculture, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations, veterinarians, consultants, and other advisors in the farm community. These projects develop on-farm demonstration, research, or marketing projects related to sustainable agriculture. The purpose of the Partnership Grant is to build knowledge farmers can use and to encourage the understanding and widespread use of sustainable techniques. Awards are capped at $10,000. Applications are due in December.

  • Sustainable Community Grants are for projects that connect farming and economic development. Projects can address issues like finance, marketing, land and water use, enterprise development, adding value to farm products, or farm labor. Applicants must be affiliated with an organization such as a community nonprofit, Cooperative Extension, local government, an educational institution, a planning board, a farming cooperative, or an incorporated citizens group. Awards are capped at $25,000. Applications are due in December.

Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)

The Small Business Innovation Research Program offers grants to qualified small businesses (including small and medium-sized farms) in support of high quality, innovative research related to important scientific problems and opportunities in agriculture that could lead to significant public benefit. SBIR Phase I grants are limited to $80,000 (duration of 8 months); Phase II grants, limited to $350,000 (duration of 24 months), are only open to previous Phase I awardees by invitation. Phase I proposals are due at the beginning of September.

Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG)

Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG) may be used for planning activities, for working capital to market value-added agricultural products, and for farm-based renewable energy. Eligible applicants are independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures. Smaller projects, multi-year and larger projects fit this program. A 1:1 match of funds requested is required. Planning grants are capped at $100,000; working capital grants are capped at $300,000. Applications due: July 6, 2009.

Energy Program

USDA Rural Development's Energy Program grant and loan program helps agricultural producers increase their economic viability by reducing energy costs and consumption through the purchase of renewable energy systems and installation of energy efficiency improvements. Solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydrogen, and efficiency projects are eligible. Awards are made on a competitive basis. For renewable energy systems, the minimum grant request is $2,500 and the maximum is $500,000. For energy efficiency improvements, the minimum grant request is $1,500 and the maximum is $250,000. A 1:1 match of funds requested is required. Contact them for pre-qualifying information. Applications due: TBA.


State Grants

Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets' REAP (Renewable Energy for Agriculture Grant Program) Program advances renewable technologies by supporting a farmer or a group of farmers in the feasibility analysis of the harvest biomass, the conversion of biomass to energy, the production of biofuel, or other renewable energy technologies by providing A) business and technical assistance research and planning to aid in developing business enterprises, and B) implementation assistance to leverage other sources of capital to assist in purchasing equipment, using technology, or producing agricultural energy. Most grants are $10,000.

Vermont Department of Public Service

The Vermont Department of Public Service has grant programs to assist farmers on renewable energy.

Foundations and Funds Grants

Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF)

OFRF provides grants and information on organic agriculture for its widespread adoption. It accepts research proposals and education and outreach proposals. Grant awards average at about $13,000 and are capped at $15,000. They have two proposal due-dates each year: one in mid-May and the other in mid-November.

The Quaker Simple Farmer Education Fund

The Quaker Simple Farmer Education Fund accelerates the adoption of sustainable practices in agriculture by working to accelerate the transition towards low impact planting, growing, and harvesting whereby carbon emissions are reduced, soil quality is much improved, and the production of crops is cleaner and healthier. The fund's focus is soil management to improve soil structure, increase water infiltration and holding capacity, and decrease erosion through three low impact approaches: Conservation Tillage, Nutrient Management, and Grassland Management. Farmers who want to make concrete changes to their operations to transition to low-impact farming are eligible. Online applications can be downloaded; they are accepted online or by email, or fax. Grants are capped at $10,000. Applications are due in fall, but there is a rolling application deadline for funds released in 2009.

The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF) provides grants and technical assistance to support innovative enterprises and businesses to accelerate the development of Vermont's green economy with a current efforts focus on the intersection between biofuels, sustainable agriculture, and sustainable forestry. Past grants have ranged from $850-$98,000.

Vermont Farm Women's Fund (VFWF)

The Vermont Farm Women's Fund (VFWF) offers grants to help women farmers in two areas: 1) Farm Business Development funds will provide support for education and travel related to helping recipients improve some aspect of their business, and 2) Leadership Development funds will provide support to help women farmers develop skills, access and opportunities to provide leadership in agricultural policy development. The University of Vermont Extension, through the Women's Agricultural Network (WAgN), serves as the fiscal agent for the fund and administers the grant award process. Grants are capped at $750. Applications are due in November.