We've updated our Grants at a Glance factsheet here.
USDA Rural Development Value Added Producer Grants have closed for 2020 but the applications generally doesn't change much year to year. If you produce a farm product and then change it to another form--such as milk to cheese or beeswax to candles--review this opportunity. Start prepping your proposal for next year now. More info and Federal Register page.
PA Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Program
Farmers, landowner, and businesses earn tax credits for implementing "Best Management Practices" (BMPs) that will enhance farm production and protect natural resources.
REAP is a first-come, first-served program – no rankings.
Eligible applicants receive between 50% and 75% of project costs in the form of State tax credits for up to $150,000 per agricultural operation.
Applicants can apply for proposed projects and/or completed projects. Learn more.
PA DEP's Small Business Advantage Grant is closed, but is anticipated to open in July, 2020. SBAG provides 50% matching grants, up to a maximum of $9,500 to enable Pennsylvania small businesses to purchase energy efficient or pollution prevention equipment, or adopt waste reduction processes.
The Center for Rural Affairs' Strategies for
Financing Beginning Farmers provides
user-friendly steps to prepare you to obtain
financial support for new ag ventures.
The SBA (Small Business Administration) has a variety of resources for beginning farmers, including consulting, business plan help, and loans.
Conventional financing/Incentive payments:
PA's Next Generation Farmer Loan Program uses federal tax-exempt financing to reduce a farmer’s interest rate for capital purchases, such as direct purchase of farm and
agricultural machinery and equipment.
-Permanent Pennsylvania resident who are at least 18 at the time of the loan application
-Must meet lender’s credit standards
-Access to adequate working capital, farm equipment, etc.
-Borrower must not have had any prior ownership of a substantial portion of land.
Farm Credit works with beginning and experienced operators. Their Smart Start program for farmers 35 or under, or with 10 or fewer years of farming, earn credits for loans by completing educational workshops.
FSA used to be considered 'the loan of last resort' but they prefer to be known as the first place to start. While FSA requires the borrower to exhaust commercial lending possibilities, establishing a connection with your local county office will open doors to a ton of reliable information on lenders. Most FSA loans, except microloans, have a 3 year education requirement; 1 year is typically waived for eligible military service. On-the-job (OJT) apprenticeships/interships may qualify you for the education requirement. FSA has loan programs for beginning farmers (10 years or less) veterans, women, and minorities. Find your nearest FSA office here.
NRCS Funding is available to eligible ag producers for a variety of conservation practices. High tunnels are a popular cost share program.
Other lenders focusing on innovation/value added:
Idea Foundry’s Local Food System Innovation Program offers financial assistance to farms, agriculture technology companies, and others which advance the production and distribution of local food through the Local Food Growth Fund. Applicable organizations cover the Greater Pittsburgh Economic Region, made up of 32 counties in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland. Contact them at email@example.com to express your interest and learn more.
The Progress Fund , based in Greensburg, PA, provides loans from $20,000 to $1 million to start, expand or buy small businesses, and has an interest in
innovative agribusinesses in PA. Their loans can be used to purchase property, restore and rehabilitate buildings, purchase inventory or equipment, buy the assets of an existing business, and for working capital. The interest
rate is variable based on the risk of the project.Terms are typically five to fifteen years. An origination fee and various closing costs are charged.
Grants for ag are extremely limited. However, if you become aware of a grant, don't let inexperience keep you from applying. We can help--email us.
Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund applications are typically open in during the first quarter of the year.
USDA Rural Development administers a wide variety of funding and technical assistance programs, including the Value Added Producer grants, which are available on a cyclical basis. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the goals of this program. Staff in your local RD office cannot write your grant application, but meeting with them prior to applying to discuss your potential project should be your first step.
Before approaching a lender or investor, you must have a business plan. Michigan State University Extension's draft template walks you through the process. Download it here. Small Business Development Centers located at colleges/universities throughout PA also provide a variety of services to veterans.
Veterans and those farming 10 years or less receive preference or rating points for many federal programs.
Information on this page is for educational purposes and does not imply endorsement.