We've updated our Grants at a Glance factsheet here.
Highly recommended for start-ups: Engage with the PA Small Business Development Center Agriculture Center of Excellence. Before you approach any lender or apply for any grant you need a business plan including a marketing plan. Consultation us FREE and individualized, and provided
by consultants with ag business experience. Get help with your business plan and finding lenders, market research and industry trends, improving your credit score prior to approaching banks, marketing, etc.
Lendermatch is a free online tool from SBA. Once you have your business plan you create an account and enter information. (Your SBDC can help.) Once you submit you'll be matched with potential lenders for further conversation.
Updates to 2020 PA REAP, Pennsylvania's tax credit program for farmers/landowners for natural resources protection BMPs. In any watershed with a written TMDL that lists an agriculturally-impairment, certain BMPs are eligible for 90% REAP tax credit reimbursement rate. (See if you're in an eligible watershed here.) Applications are open and first come/first served; there is no ranking nor veterans' preference for this program.
What information does a commercial bank need when deciding to lend? See a sample Individual Financial Statement form.
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.
DIsaster Relief (USDA) At a Glance
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.
FHLP BOB loans
Banking On Business (BOB) funding helps eligible small businesses that lack sufficient equity or cash flow meet lending standards. Loans up to $200,000. BOB funds may be used in financing the startup or expansion of a small business, including:
Land acquisition and construction
Machinery and equipment purchase
Permanent working capital
BOB loans are only available from member banks through the FHLBank Pittsburgh. Find them. Limited funds are available each year; it's suggested to get your request in early in the calendar year.
NRCS Incentive Payments (formerly called Cost Share)
Funding is available to eligible ag producers for a variety of conservation practices. High tunnels are a popular cost share program. conservation Learn more about conservation practices NRCS may help with and the certification process for going organic.
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.
Grants for ag are extremely limited. While some are awarded for a project in full, many require a match in order to show the applicant has buy-in and the resources to maintain the project. Don't let inexperience keep you from applying--w can help--email us.
Agricultural Marketing Service, a part of USDA, offer grant programs focused on local and regional food systems, and the specialty crops, dairy and sheep industries. Factsheet
Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund applications are typically open in during the first quarter of the year.
PA DEP's Small Business Advantage Grant is OPEN. SBAG provides 50% matching grants, up to a maximum of $7000 to enable Pennsylvania small businesses to purchase energy efficient or pollution prevention equipment, or adopt waste reduction processes. Or, up ot $5000 for natural resources protection projects like riparian buffer or fencing for rotational grazing. Grant amount will be up to 50% of the total project cost.
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.
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. Download it.
The SBA (Small Business Administration) has a variety of resources for beginning farmers, including consulting, business plan help, and loans.
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. Mention your status to program staff--they may not ask.
Information on this page is for educational purposes and does not imply endorsement.
USDA 2021 Rural Development
Value Added Producer grants
Register for the free
Feb. 3rd VAPG workshop,
Examples of Value Added products: fruits made into pies or jams, meats made into jerky, tomatoes and peppers made into salsa, vegetables cut up and packaged for easy cooking, organically grown produce, beeswax into candles.
Scroll down to download VAPG docs.
Applications are open for Planning grants (up to $75,000) and Working Capital grants (up to $250,000).
Deadline is March 22, 2021.
Project period: up to 36 months.
Expected award date: September, 2021 (so you could not start your project before then).
What is Value Added for the purposes of this funding?
An Agricultural Commodity that meets one of the following methodologies:
1. Has undergone a Change in Physical State (such as milling wheat into flour or making strawberries into jam);
2. Was Produced in a Manner that Enhances the Value of the Agricultural Commodity (such as organically produced products);
3. Is Physically Segregated in a manner that results in the enhancement of the value of the Agricultural Commodity (such as trace-ability of hormone-free livestock);
4. Is a source of Farm- or Ranch-based Renewable Energy, including E-85 fuel; or
5. Is aggregated and marketed as a Locally-Produced Agricultural Food Product.
And as a result of the Change in Physical State or the manner in which the Agricultural Commodity was produced, marketed, or segregated:
1. The customer base for the Agricultural Commodity is expanded and
2. A greater portion of the revenue derived from the marketing, processing, or physical segregation of the Agricultural Commodity is available to the producer of the commodity.
Points for veterans who have operated a farm/ranch for not more than 10 years; applicant must demonstrate that s/he is actively involved in the day-to-day agricultural process.
50% match required, however, match may be in the form of cash or eligible in-kind contributions (for example, raw commodity, time contributed to the project in some cases).
Funded projects must be directly related to the processing and/or marketing of value added products. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the end goals of the program.
All proposals must demonstrate economic viability and sustainability to compete for funding (you'll need a business plan).
Get your ducks in a row now:
1. Get a DUNS number now. Don't be scammed at other sites that pop up first in the search and pay for it!
2. Register for SAMS. This can take a little while, and is free, so register now just in case you decide to apply.
Download these docs: