Grants Vs. Loans
Q – “I hear grants are free money! So, how can I get a grant?” A – Grants are not exactly easy, but with a little innovation and work writing proposals – you can have some success!
- Start with a great idea. Actually, make a list of all of your ideas for the future of your farm.
- Do some research. Decide what would work best for you and what has the best chance of getting attention.
- Review sites like those listed below to see what kinds of projects have been funded in the past.
- ‘Google’ your ideas to see what similar things exist. Unique ideas have a better chance for money.
- Write at least a basic business plan for the new endeavor. Do not get caught up in the pages and pages of documentation, simply make an appointment with the local Small Business Development Center or get budgets and detailed information through university Extension programs. You can also find fill-in business plans online.
- Follow the rules. Many times, getting a grant involves being the best not only at writing, but at following the guidelines set forth by the funding agency.
Q – “I don’t want a loan…but I don’t have a choice. Where do I start?” A – Try a low-interest loan program.
- Low-interest loan programs do one of two things:
- Lower your interest rate
- Increases your loan package above the bank offer in order to finance the project.
- Most loan programs require the cooperation of a local bank and you still need to qualify for the loan.
- Be sure to have your finances in line and have a reasonable plan outlined before going to get the loan.
Where do I start?
This may not be a comprehensive list, but is a start to finding assistance with agricultural operations. For other opportunities, please search the web and other agricultural resources in the area.
- The Ohio Department of Agriculture can assist with loans. CONTACT: 800-282-1955 http://www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/ordp/farmloan.aspx
- The Farm Loan Program with Farm Service Agency helps with grain storage and now hay storage buildings and many other projects. It is a lower-interest loan program. This program is helpful to beginning farmers and ranchers who cannot receive loans in other ways. CONTACT: 614/255-2547 http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=fmlp&topic=landing
- The AgriLink Deposit Program is available to farms headquartered in Ohio which maintain 51% of all land and/or in Ohio may apply for low interest loans through a State Depository Bank. Approved bank loans are submitted to the Treasury which purchases a reduced interest CD with the lender. CONTACT: Ohio Treasurer’s office: 800-228-1102 http://www.tos.ohio.gov/ search ‘Agrilink’
- The Progress Fund is a non-profit organization that lends money to unconventional ideas for people with good character. If you have a new idea for the farm, but can’t get lending from the bank – they can help. CONTACT: Mark Nicholson email@example.com 814-215-9176 www.progressfund.org
- SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education) Grants are available through USDA for farmers/ranchers who submit proposals that test, evaluate, and adapt sustainable agriculture practices for their operations and related activities, including marketing. These grants are for sustainable agriculture research and education projects, NOT for everyday farming expenses. Grants are for up to $7,500 per farm, $15,000 for a group of two farmers, and $22,500 for a group of three or more farmers. The deadline for application is typically early December. www.sare.org
- USDA Rural Development – “To increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for all rural Americans.” Higher monetary values for business ventures are available through the Value Added Producer Grant program (VAPG) http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/bcp_vapg.html
- Farm Aid – http://www.farmaid.org Yes, this is Willie Nelson’s baby organization. They offer competitive grants to farmers in three areas: Growing the Good Food Movement; Helping Farmers Thrive; and Taking Action to Change the System. http://www.farmaid.org/site/c.qlI5IhNVJsE/b.2723745/k.9953/Grant_Guidelines.htm
- AgMRC – The marketing website for value added agriculture has lots of info on writing and apply for grants: http://www.agmrc.org/business_development/starting_a_business/raising_money/grant_opportunities_and_information.cfm