Potential Funding Sources for Transitioning Farmers
Below is a thorough but not exhaustive list of potential sources of funding. These may be accessed by you or your children.
Federal Funding Opportunities
The National Council of State Agricultural Finance Programs promotes financing of agricultural development and has compiled an overview of state-level funding opportunities for farmers.
Regional or National Opportunities
A program of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, SARE aims to advance innovations that improve profitability, stewardship, and quality of life by investing in groundbreaking research and education.
- Funding is available through SARE’s regional network:
- North Central SARE: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Dakota
- Northeast SARE: Connecticut; Delaware; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; New Jersey; New York; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; Vermont; Washington, DC; and West Virginia
- Southern SARE: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia
- Western SARE: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, American Samoa, and Guam
- SARE provides grants annually to farmers, researchers, educators, nonprofits, and community-based agriculture organizations and activists. Grants are awarded to applicants who offer interesting, potentially workable ideas.
- Although SARE grants are to fund research and education, farmers and ranchers are among those encouraged to apply. Research or education projects could be conducted in the course of running a farm.
Devoted to introducing sustainable practices to small independent farms across the country, this organization seeks to support small farms in their efforts for greater environmental and economic health, community engagement, and sustainable agriculture. They award grants ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 and outline preferences for projects they would fund, including to increase food access for low-income consumers.
The National Young Farmers Coalition is launching a new grant program to help young and beginning farmers and ranchers start and grow their businesses. The coalition provides 50 farmers and ranchers $5,000 grants. Recipients also receive a one-year membership to the coalition.
The Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund is a small grant program that provides direct assistance to veterans in their beginning years of farming or ranching. The fund does not give money directly to the veteran but to third-party vendors for items the veteran has identified will make a crucial difference in the launch of their farm business. Awards range from $1,000 to $5,000, and more than $1.9 million has been awarded to veterans since 2011.
The organization is starting the Working Farms Fund, which will provide resources for farmers to adopt sustainable farming practices to supply food for local communities.
This organization offers a $500–$1,000 grant for a plant-based food project.
OCCSP provides partial government funding for certificate renewal under the National Organic Program.
The program provides government funding for farmers to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. The USDA conservation web page offers information on conservation in agriculture.
Organic Transition supports farmers shifting to organic farming with a monetary grant, technical support, and mentorship.
The foundation offers funding for “environment and health” programs, which include initiatives for sustainability in agriculture and food systems.
The foundation offers funding for sustainable agriculture, improving food systems, and mitigating climate change. Contact the foundation for grant information.
These government grants support the development of new tools, approaches, practices, and technologies to further natural-resource conservation on private lands.
The program funds projects that increase domestic consumption of and access to locally and regionally produced agricultural products and develop new market opportunities for farm and ranch operations serving local markets.
The foundation offers grants of $1,000 for a vegan project.
The center provides grants of $500–$5,000 for projects in community education and food literacy, increasing access to healthy food, fostering sustainable and equitable food systems, and promoting a plant-based lifestyle. Recipients must be partnered with a nonprofit organization. Grants can be applied to farm transitions.
The organization offers multiple grant, cost-share, and loan programs to help farmers, food processors, and food businesses. Funding targets North Carolina and West Virginia.
Funding Sources for Farmers of Color
Tips on Applying for Grants and Loans
Karen Klonsky, extension specialist at the University of California, Davis, has written a short informative guide on financing a small farm operation.
For farmers in the upper Midwest, the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute offers free advising on choosing grants to finance your farm investment.