Farm financing can take many forms, and grants, loans, and cost shares are great ways to help your operation’s bottom line. So what do these terms mean?
- Grants: Money which does not have to be repaid. Grants may sometimes require proof of matching funds from the applicant and must be used to satisfy the goals of the grant program.
- Cost Shares: An agency or organization will share in the cost of a program up to a stipulated amount. The majority of these programs are reimbursement programs where the farmer may need to lay out the funds to complete the program, and then get reimbursed.
- Loans: Money which has to be repaid. The applicant must undergo a credit check, and depending on the loan, may be required to put up some sort of collateral.
- Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) has a competitive grants program funded by USDA and EPA to promote research and education about sustainable agriculture. The Producer Grant and the On Farm Research Grant are the two most accessible grants for farmers. The Producer grant program pays for a farmer to do on farm research on a sustainable agriculture topic. The On Farm Research grant pays a farmer to do on farm research in conjunction with a partner such as Extension or and educational institution. Calls for proposals are issued each year to start the competitive process. Grant Programs Available:
- Farm Bill Programs and Grants: Click here for a link the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s overview of Farm Bill programs and grants.
- The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) funds research on organic farming and food systems, and the dissemination of these research results to the greater agricultural community. The grant is open to any agricultural production, social, economic, or policy-related topic of concern to organic farmers and/or ranchers. OFRF supports research that is relevant to and takes place in certified organic systems. It has also has identified the following as areas of particular interest:
- Organic livestock systems
- Economic constraints and opportunities relevant to the viability of small- and medium-scale organic farms and ranches.
- Projects that investigate the interactions between components of organic systems and that take a systems-management (rather than an input-substitution) approach to solving production problems.
Cost Share Programs
- The 200 Organic Farms Campaign removes the financial barrier to USDA Organic Certification by reimbursing the full cost of organic certification up to $1,000 for farmers pursuing it for the first time.
- Organic Certification Cost Share Program: Producers are eligible for as much as 75 percent of the cost (up to $750) through the Georgia Department of Agriculture under the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program and Georgia Organics will provide the remaining 25 percent (up to $250) for farmers getting their certification for the first time. Here is the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Organic Cost Share page.
- The Natural Resources Conservation Service has worked with Georgia landowners to protect the state’s natural resources for more than 65 years. They provide technical assistance on natural resources issues and assist individuals, groups, communities, and counties implement soil and water conservation practices to protect the 34 million acres of privately owned land in Georgia. NRCS has cost share programs that provide money and technical assistance for irrigation, wells, rotational grazing cross-fencing, cover cropping and much more. Find an NRCS office near you!
Below are a list of banks, agencies and nonprofits offering loans to farmers and agricultural enterprises: