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Funding & Grants

 

1. Get your 'farm number':  Learn about registering your farm property with USDA Farm Services

Agency (FSA), your first step in accessing loans and cost share programs. 

2. Lendermatch is a free online tool from SBA (Small Business Administration). Once you have your business plan

you create an account and enter information. Your local SBDC (Small Business Development Center) can assist you

with your  business plan.  Once you submit you'll be matched with potential lenders for further conversation.

Commercial lenders throughout PA may loan for farms and/or equipment. See what lenders will want to know

before you approach them.

3. Funding Options:

USDA Farm Service Agency—farm and operating loans.  FSA lends to those with 3 years farming

business experience but may waive 1 year for military service. Their microloans (up to $50k) have a

lower threshold for acceptance and less paperwork than larger loans.

VA Home loans can be used to purchase a farm under certain conditions. Fact sheet.

 

SBA financing options for rural businesses.

Horizon Farm Credit finances farms and agribusinesses. In mid-2023 they launched Grow Ahead programming

to support new/beginning farmers. HFC also offers some competitive grants; these will be posted in our newsletter.

If you belong to a federal credit union like NFCU, consider them for a land/home loan.

3.  NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) provides free technical assistance and partial funding for installing conservation best management practices (BMPs) on farm, such as livestock watering, fencing, high tunnel (hoop houses), pollinator habitat, and many more. Your application will be ranked, so the time from application to being offered a contact may be long. 

 

4. PA Resource Enhancement & Protection (REAP) is a first-come, first-served program that enables farmers, businesses, and landowners to earn PA income tax credits to offset the cost of implementing conservation practices, including energy projects. Credits may be sold.

5. USDA REAP (Rural Energy for America Programprovides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Agricultural producers may also apply for new energy efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing.

6. Grants can never be counted on as income in your budget. Most are competitive; some require matching funds (a percentage of the total project cost which you must have 'on hand' to apply). Grant funds, as well as conservation funding from the government, is taxable above a threshold amount; consult your tax attorney. Watch our newsletter and facebook pages for information on open grants. Commonly asked question: "Is there a grant for disabled veterans to buy farms?" No. 

 

Hands holding a calculator and typing in numbers

Sign up for our newsletter to receive updates as grants open.

jars of jam

Value Added Producer Grants

Go to VAPG page

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  open for Planning grants (typically up to $75,000) and Working Capital grants (typically up to $250,000). Electronic submissions by May 11, 2023.

Paper submissions by May 16, 2023.


There is a 50% match this year. If your total project budget is $100k, you must have $50,000 in match. Some may be in-kind such as the ag product value you're growing, and some labor costs.

Guidelines 
A Value Added Agricultural Commodity  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.

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).

School Kids

The Pennsylvania Farm to School Grant Program will provide schools with funding to improve access to healthy, local foods and increase agriculture education opportunities for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

City Garden

Urban Ag

Urban Ag toolkit from USDA, with resources on soil health, land acquisition, business planning, and more.

Image by Randy Fath

Surplus Property

PA's veteran owned business surplus property program offers a wide variety of federal and state

surplus property.

Federal Surplus Property Program 

Eligibility for federal in PA

Veteran Business Enterprise (VBEs) and Service Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (SDVBEs) in PA or with

the federal government

State surplus property program 

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Farm tour of Black Valley Kune Kune Farm

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