9 Things (2023) You Must Know


Are you a new farmer or rancher looking for financial support? Look no further than USDA farm grants!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers farm grants for a wide range of candidates with the goal of promoting growth, sustainability, and economic progress.

Learn more below about when and why you may consider applying for a USDA farm grant.

1. What are USDA farm grants?

A USDA farm grant is financial assistance that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides for certain agricultural projects and initiatives.

The USDA has specifically designed these grants to promote the growth, sustainability, and economic viability of the agricultural sector.

Individual landowners, farmers, ranchers, rural businesses, agricultural organizations, and other eligible entities can apply for these grants.

2. What are the different types of USDA farm grants?

Numerous types of farm grants fund various opportunities.

Here are the most common types:

bulletResearch and education grants

These grants help support everything from agricultural research and innovation to education projects that are intended to enhance production techniques, improve farm management practices, address, environmental challenges, and advance agricultural knowledge overall.

bulletValue-added agricultural producer grants

These grants help farmers and ranchers to add value to their agricultural products.

When you have a valuable agricultural product, you can expand your marketing opportunities and increase profitability.

Many landowners use grant money to help fund product development, marketing plans, feasibility studies, and business planning.

bulletConservation grants

As the name implies, these grants focus on conservation.

They may be a good fit for goals like land stewardship and environmental protection.

You can use these funds to further your enhancement of soil health, water quality, wildlife habitats, and sustainability in agricultural operations.

bulletBeginner Farmer and Rancher Development Program

This development program offers grants to organizations that are helping beginner farmers and ranchers.

If you’re just entering this industry and you’re looking for assistance getting established, then this could be a good place to seek out grant money.

bulletRural business development grants

These grants are ideal for those in rural areas.

They provide money for infrastructure projects, business planning, marketing initiatives, and job creation in rural areas.

bulletSpecialty crop block grants

This type of grant focuses on fruits, vegetables, nuts, and horticultural products.

Their goal is to increase the competitiveness of specialty crops through actions like research, marketing, promotion, and education.

bulletFarm and ranch stress assistance network grants

These grants specifically aim to support farmers and ranchers in their mental health journey.

If you’re facing stress and emotional difficulties as you care for your land, this may be a good fit for you.

3. How do USDA farm grants support landowners?

Above all else, USDA farm grants seek to provide critical financial support and other resources to landowners.

This allows property owners to enhance their agricultural operations and address any challenges that may occur.

Landowners often utilize these grants for the following purposes:

bulletTo implement sustainable farming practices

bulletTo adopt innovative technologies

bulletTo improve production techniques

bulletTo expand market opportunities

bulletTo develop value-add products

bulletTo conserve land

bulletTo practice environmental stewardship

bulletTo advance resource management

bulletTo protect natural resources

Furthermore, USDA farm grants are particularly helpful for farmers who are just beginning in the industry.

The grants provide them with opportunities for training, mentorship, and access to resources, allowing them to establish their own successful agricultural businesses.

When used correctly, USDA farm grants can propel businesses and landowners toward agricultural growth, economic development, and the long-term viability of operations.

4. Who is eligible for USDA farm grants?

Farm grants are available to a wide range of individuals, entities, and organizations.

If you’re beginning to explore agriculture and rural development, then you may be a good candidate for this type of funding.

Here is a list of potential recipients:

bulletIndividual farmers and ranchers

bulletAgricultural cooperatives

bulletProducer groups

bulletNonprofit organizations

bulletTribal entities

bulletBeginning farmers

bulletSocially disadvantaged farmers

bulletFarming partnerships

bulletFamily farm cooperations

bulletRural businesses

bulletLand trusts

bulletConservation organizations

bulletResearch institutions


bulletState, local, and tribal governments

Grant programs all have different eligibility criteria based on various factors such as farm size, production activities, income levels, geographic location, or specific target groups.

Before you apply for a grant, you should review the specific guidelines and requirements of each grant program to determine your eligibility.

In general, the USDA purposes to provide opportunities for numerous stakeholders in the agricultural sector.

These grants support innovation, promote sustainability, and contribute to rural economic development.

5. How can landowners benefit from USDA farm grants?

Grants empower landowners to do everything from enhancing their own operations and adopting sustainable practices to expanding markets and accessing knowledge and resources.

Consider the following ways that landowners benefit from these farm grants.

bulletFinancial support: These grants provide landowners with financial assistance to implement projects, cover costs associated with agricultural development, or invest in equipment or infrastructure.

bulletMarket expansion: USDA farm grants support landowners in exploring new markets, diversifying products, and adding value.

In doing this, they’re able to increase their own profitability and expand their customer base.

bulletSustainable practices: These types of grants encourage farmers and ranchers to adopt sustainable farming practices.

The USDA wants all landowners to take on the role of environmental stewardship and understand the value of long-term sustainability as well as resource conservation.

bulletInnovation and technology adoption: Grants support landowners in adopting innovative technologies.

If you’re interested in staying on the cutting edge of your industry, taking grant money to enhance your competitiveness, productivity, and efficiency is often a logical step.

bulletTraining and education: Farm grants allow landowners to access training programs and educational resources that they may not have access to otherwise.

When you have the knowledge and skills about your land, tools, or industry, you’re able to make more informed decisions and improve your farm-managed practices.

bulletNetworking and collaboration: If you’re interested in getting connected with peers in the industry, grant programs can be a great resource.

These programs offer networking opportunities and allow landowners to begin collaborating, sharing knowledge, and experiencing collective growth.

bulletBusiness development: Running a farm is a business, and the USDA knows this.

Landowners can develop business plans, marketing strategies, feasibility studies, and much more with the support of grant funding.

bulletRisk management: Agricultural can be a risky business, especially for new farmers and rangers who may make more mistakes than normal.

For this reason, additional grand support in the form of federal crop insurance programs, diversification strategies, and climate resilience initiatives can help provide a buffer for landowners.

bulletCommunity impact: Landowners who use USDA farm grants contribute to the economic development of their communities.

Often, these are rural communities because of where their land is located.

The additional funds dedicated to their land can create job opportunities as well as sustainable growth.

6. What are the steps to apply?

If you’re interested in applying for a USDA farm grant, take the 10 steps below:

bulletIdentify eligible grant programs

As noted above, you can only apply for grants you qualify for.

To determine which you should apply for, you should research USDA programs that align with your project goals and objectives.

Important factors to consider in your search are eligibility requirements, project focus areas, and funding priorities.

bulletReview grant guidelines

Like any other application process, grants take time and energy to apply for.

You’ll want to make sure you thoroughly review the specific guidelines, instructions, and eligibility criteria for your chosen grant program(s).

Make note of the deadlines, additional documentation, and any special requirements.

bulletDevelop a project plan

As part of the application project, you’ll need a project plan.

This type of plan typically involves goals, timelines, budgets, activities, and objectives.

While you write out a plan for your project, make sure that the details align with the grant that you’re applying for.

If it doesn’t, then you may want to reconsider your application.

bulletGather required documentation

Though each application will vary, you’ll likely need to gather additional documentation to submit with the form.

This additional paperwork includes financial support, business plans, letters of support, project descriptions, and any other materials that the USDA requests.

bulletComplete the application

Complete the grant application form accurately and completely.

Not only is it important to provide clear and concise responses to questions, but you should also make sure you tie your project to the grant program’s goals.

Address how the agricultural operation or community will benefit if you receive this funding.

bulletOutline your budget

Projects often suffer when landowners don’t have a clear budget.

Take the time to create a detailed budget so that you understand all the expenses that you will undertake and how you can use the funding appropriately.

Don’t forget to include everything in your budget, including personnel, supplies, equipment, and any other expenses you foresee.

The more you forecast in your budget, the easier it will be to stay on track.

Once again, you must be sure to check whether your project budget aligns with the funding limits and eligibility requirements of the grant program.

bulletSubmit the application

Follow the appropriate application instructions to submit your grant.

Keep an eye out for how each individual grant needs to be submitted.

Some list mailing addresses while others prefer online portals or electronic submissions.

bulletWait for your application reviewal

After you’ve submitted your application, there’s nothing to do but wait.

Either the USDA will review your grant application or a team they have designated.

During this review, these individuals will evaluate your project’s feasibility, budget justification, alignment with the grant program, and overall merit.

bulletReceive your grant notification

If your grant application is successful, you’ll receive notification regarding the funding amount, terms, and any conditions associated with the grant.

We recommend reviewing the award carefully and responding promptly with acceptance or a request for any additional information.

bulletManage your grant

After a grant is awarded, you’ll need to manage the funds according to the agreement you have with the USDA.

Be sure to document how you’re implementing the funds.

7. Who is considered a “beginner farmer”?

Here are the criteria the USDA uses to identify a beginner farmer:

bulletAn individual who has not operated a farm or ranch for more than 10 years

bulletAn individual who does not own a farm or ranch greater than 30 percent of the average size farm in the country as determined by the most current Census of Agriculture when the loan application is submitted

bulletAn individual who meets the loan eligibility requirements of the project to which he or she is applying

bulletAn individual who substantially participates in the operation

8. Why work with the USDA?

Going into business with the government…is that a good idea?

Many people wonder about this.

Why would you take grant money if you don’t have to?

First off, remember that a grant is a gift to an individual or company that doesn’t need to be paid back.

You’re not taking out a loan from the government.

You’re using available resources to help grow your existing business.

So, if anything, you’re turning down gifted money.

We recommend looking at the USDA as a resource first and foremost.

They provide the following to landowners:

bulletAdvice and guidance

A successful business requires research, planning, and organization.

The USDA has knowledge and experience in the industry if you want to become successful.

Take them up on this knowledge and use the resources they’re offering to get you off on the right foot.

bulletAccess to capital

When you have funding, you’re able to buy or lease the right land, purchase equipment, and help with operating costs.

It can be expensive to start a business, so don’t discount how much having grant money can help you in the beginning.

bulletConservation, insurance, and disaster assistance

We’re all stewards of the land.

The USDA is invested in having American landowners care for their land and act in the name of conservation.

Taking part in conservation programs can ensure that you’ll maintain the natural resources provided and improve your operations so your land remains in good shape.

9. How do you work with the USDA to start a farm?

If you’re at the very beginning of this process — well before a farm grant — you can use the USDA as an even greater resource.

The first thing to know is that the USDA has service centers that can help you curate your vision for your land and farm.

Make an appointment with a local USDA Service Center in your area.

Before you go, make sure you ask which documents you’ll need to bring with you, so both parties have all the information they require.

Next, consider using a farm or ranch coordinator.

These individuals are part of the USDA teams that can help you understand the USDA process and maximize their resources and support.

Finally, sign up for a farmers.gov account.

On this website, you’ll be able to view farm loan information as well as manage conservation business online.

Final Thoughts

USDA farm grants are a stellar resource for beginning farmers and ranchers, producer groups, land trusts, and so many others.

Consider this as a way to obtain funding for the business you hope to grow!

Additional Resources

If you are looking to buy affordable land, you can check out our Listings page. one-dollar-buy-land And before you buy land, make sure you check out Gokce Land Due Diligence Program. gokce-land-due-diligence-program-banner Don’t forget to check out my latest Gokce Knowledge Class: 31 Lessons I Learned Selling My First 500 Properties Online.

If you are looking to sell land, visit our page on how to Sell Your Land.

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Disclaimer: we are not lawyers, accountants or financial advisors and the information in this article is for informational purposes only. This article is based on our own research and experience and we do our best to keep it accurate and up-to-date, but it may contain errors. Please be sure to consult a legal or financial professional before making any investment decisions.

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