Funding Opportunities

Grants
Scholarships
Loans

Grants

NRCS Farmland & Wetland Protection grant
Deadlines: December 16 or February 17, 2017
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is soliciting applications now for the FY 2017 funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) including Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE).
These programs are funded by the Federal Farm Bill to protect critical water resources, protect wildlife habitat, and encourage private landowners to maintain land for farming and restore degraded wetlands. American Indian Tribes, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations that have farmland protection programs are eligible to partner with NRCS to purchase conservation easements. Wetland reserve easements allow landowners to enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater, and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities.

View application here under Programs-Easements.  Send questions to Joseph Bachand, joseph.bachand@ri.usda.gov, (401) 822-8818. Learn more at a workshop on Dec. 8, 6-8 pm in NRCS Conference Room, Warwick, RI.

Organic Funding through EQIP
NRCS accepts applications year-round
This Organic Initiative provides funding to plan and implement conservation practices to address resource concerns:

  • Developing a conservation plan
  • Establishing buffer zones
  • Planning and installing pollinator habitat
  • Improving soil quality and organic matter while minimizing erosion
  • Developing a grazing plan and supportive livestock practices
  • Improving irrigation efficiency
  • Enhancing cropping rotations and nutrient management

NRCS works to support the environmental sustainability of organic operations. Learn more here. Find your local NRCS contact here.

Local Foods, Local Places will provide direct technical support to selected communities. A team of experts will help community members develop action plans that use local foods to support healthy families and communities and to drive downtown and neighborhood revitalization. The assistance process features a community workshop that brings people together to develop shared goals and steps to achieve them. Learn more here.

AgEnhancement Grants
Deadlines: April 1, August 1 and December 1
Northeast agricultural credit associations and CoBank award grants to help organizations promote awareness of agriculture in the 6 New England states, NY & NJ. Funds  aid an ongoing educational campaign to support programs, projects, events and other activities that promote and stengthen agriculture, forest products or commercial fishing industries in the region. Since 1996, Farm Credit AgEnhancement Program has shared over one million dollars in grants from $500 to $8,000. Learn more and apply here.

Creating Healthy & Humane Farms, One Farm at a Time
The Fund-a-Farmer Project, awards grants for projects that help family farmers transition to pasture-based systems, improve the marketing of their humane products, or enriches the conditions in which the farm animals are raised. These farmer partners, are leading our country back to a financially and ecologically sustainable food system. Learn more here and apply here.

Help RI DEM maintain Organic Certification program 
Farmers can help this program stay viable by submitting complete 2015 certification applications and renewal paperwork starting in January. While applications can be accepted until April 1, earlier submissions will speed processing. Take advantage of NOFA/RI’s FREE Organic Farm Advisor services to review applications or renewals before submittal. Should you need certification in a short time frame, contact an outside certifier. See options here.

RI DEM continues Cost Share Program  RI DEM will continue the USDA cost-share program, which reimburses farms for 75% of organic certification fees up to $750. RIDEM currently is applying for cost share funding which has been allocated to RI for reimbursement of producers’ certification costs incurred through 9/30/15. If you are a certified organic farmer, please let Ken Ayars and Matt Green know the financial or other impact of switching to a private certifier on your farm.

Cedar Tree Foundation
This foundation offers Sustainable Agriculture, Environmental Education, and Environmental Health grants. They do not take unsolicited proposals, but welcome letters of inquiry for U.S.-based work from non-profit organizations working within its program areas.

Harry Chapin Foundation
This foundation funds U.S. 501(c)(3) not-for-profit programs in Community Education, Arts-In-Education, and Agricultural and Environmental Programs. Grant sizes range from a few hundred dollars to a maximum of $10,000. The Foundation Board meets three times a year on an as-needed basis.

$5,000 “Express” Training Grants Available
Rolling monthly deadlines
The Governor’s Workforce Board offers funding for “Express” Incumbent Worker Training Grants to support the competitiveness and growth of RI businesses. Eligible employers may apply for up to $5,000 in matching funds to invest in worker training to build and retain a highly-skilled workforce. Submit grant proposals on-line for monthly awards. Learn more here. Apply here.

Presbyterian Committee on the Self Development of People (SDOP) Grants This group helps empower economically poor, oppressed and disadvantaged people who want to take charge of their own lives, are organizing to do something about their own conditions and understand that their actions will produce long-term changes. Supported projects must be presented, owned and controlled by the people who will directly benefit from them and should include long-term solutions. Grants range up to $20,000. Applications accepted year-round. Learn more here.

Scholarships

Annie’s Sustainable Agriculture Scholarships
Deadline: Jan. 6, 2017
Annual scholarships will be awarded to support the next generation of farmers committed to sustainable farming practices. Annie’s scholarship program assists undergraduate and graduate students pursuing studies in sustainable and organic agriculture. Learn more and apply here.

Internships in Floriculture and Horticulture
Deadline: March 1, 2017
Americal Floral Endowments (AFE) offers two intern scholarships programs for students in floriculture or horticulture. Both programs include a paid internship, along with a scholarship upon successful completion of the internship.

Vic & Margaret Ball Intern Scholarship Program
Deadlines: March 1, 2017
This Americal Floral Endowments (AFE) program gives students the opportunity to gain practical floriculture/horticulture experience while training at a commercial production greenhouse or nursery. Students will intern away from home for a period of three, four or six month periods, and upon completion of their paid internship, they will receive a scholarship in the amount of $1,500 (three months), $3,000 (four months) or $6,000 (six months). Learn more here.

Loans

Kiva’s interest-free microloans for Farmers 
Kiva Zip, part of the international nonprofit, Kiva.org, offers 0% interest loans of up to $10,000.00 for small businesses, entrepreneurs and farmers in the United States.

Kiva re-inserts relationships and “social underwriting” into financial relationships. Rather than evaluating a loan application based on credit score or collateral; Kiva evaluate’s a borrower’s character and network of trust to determine creditworthiness.  Loans are crowd-funded on our online platform by individuals around the world who invest as little as $25 each. With access to global a network of tens of thousands of lenders, Kiva Zip borrowers have a funding success rate of 95%!

Lenders come to us because they want to support socially impactful businesses. It’s not surprising that some of the most popular Kiva Zip loans have been for small farms, as dozens of happy, fully-funded farmers have already discovered! Learn more at Kiva.org.

Rural Youth Loans The Farm Service Agency makes loans to rural youths to establish and operate income-producing projects in connection with 4-H clubs, FFA and other agricultural groups. Projects must be planned and operated with the help of the organization advisor, produce sufficient income to repay the loan and provide the youth with practical business and educational experience. The maximum loan amount is $5000. Contact Ingrid Fratantuono, County Executive Director at 401-828-3120, option 2.

Farm Storage Facility Loan Program
The Farm Storage Facility Loan Program (FSFLP) allows producers of eligible commodities to obtain low-interest financing to build or upgrade farm storage and handling facilities. The new maximum principal amount of a loan through FSFL is $500,000. Participants are now required to provide a down payment of 15 percent, with CCC providing a loan for the remaining 85 percent of the net cost of the eligible storage facility and permanent drying and handling equipment. Additional security is required for poured-cement open-bunker silos, renewable biomass facilities, cold storage facilities, hay barns and for all loans exceeding $50,000. New loan terms of 7, 10 or 12 years are available depending on the amount of the loan. The following commodities are eligible for farm storage facility loans:

  • Corn, grain sorghum, rice, soybeans, oats, peanupts, wheat, barley or minor oilseeds harvested as whole grain
  • Corn, grain sorghum, wheat, oats or barley harvested as other-than-whole grain
  • Pulse crops – lentils, small chickpeas, dry beans and dry peas
  • Hay
  • Renewable biomass
  • Fruits (including nuts) and vegetables – cold storage facilities
  • Honey

Learn more at www.fsa.usda.gov.

Microloans Available for Young and Beginning Farmers
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers a  loan program for farmers and those serving local and regional food markets, including urban farmers. The loans can be up to $35,000. Rates are as low as 1 1/2%. Terms can be 1 ro 7 years. Learn more or apply for an FSA microloan through your local FSA office. Learn more here.

Youth Loans
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) makes loans up to $5,000 to youth to establish and operate agricultural income-producing projects in connection with 4-H clubs, FFA and other agricultural groups. Projects must be planned and operated with the help of the organization advisor, produce sufficient income to repay the loan and provide the youth with practical business and educational experience.

Youth Loan Eligibility Requirements:

  • Be a citizen of the United States (which includes Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) or a legal resident alien
  • Be 10 years to 20 years of age
  • Comply with FSA’s general eligibility requirements
  • Be unable to get a loan from other sources
  • Conduct a modest income-producing project in a supervised program of work as outlined above
  • Demonstrate capability of planning, managing and operating the project under guidance and assistance from a project advisor.  The project supervisor must recommend the youth loan applicant, along with providing adequate supervision.

Stop by the county office for help preparing and processing the application forms.

SBA Microloans
The SBA’s Microloan program, provides loans of up to $50,000 to help small businesses start up and expand. The average microloan is about $13,000. Learn more here.

Whole Foods Market Local Producer Loan Program
Rolling applications accepted online
Whole Foods Market is providing up to $10 million in low-interest loans to independent local farmers and food artisans. Targeted loan amounts are between $1,000 and $100,000. Producers must meet Whole Foods Market’s Quality Standards and standards for animal welfare, and they must use funds for expansion and capital expenditures. Approval and terms are dependent on product characteristics, risk assessments, and use of proceeds. Learn more here.

SEED Loan Funds Available for RI Businesses
South Eastern Economic Development Corporation (SEED) is the leading micro lender in Southern New England. As a non-bank community lender, SEED makes small business loans, when a bank might not fund a start-up business or those with tight cash flow or limited collateral. Loan funds are flexible and may be used for working capital, inventory, furniture, fixtures, machinery and equipment. The maximum loan term is six years and there is no pre-payment penalty. Learn more here.

Farm Loans Available
The RI Farm Service Agency (FSA) has money available to lend beginning farmers to purchase a farm or to make improvements to an existing farm. Learn more here or call 800-551-5144 or 401-828-3120.