Programs & Grants for Farmers

We understand that it’s hard for producers to know all of the programs that are available to them and what their farm actually qualifies for. Hopefully this blog post will help. We will make sure to keep this list updated, and if you have any questions, reach out to your local extension office or myself (kls342@cornell.edu/518-272-4210).

 

Dairy Transitions Farmland Protection Initiative

This grant opportunity is for Conservation Easement Projects with owners of viable agricultural lands that are associated with a dairy Farm Operation at risk of conversion to non-farm uses. The viable agricultural land permanently protected as the result of each awarded Conservation Easement Project will remain in continuing agricultural use.

Project Eligibility:

Limited only to conservation easement projects (also referred to as purchase of development rights projects) on dairy farm operations on viable agricultural land that are transitioning to:

The next ownership of a continuing dairy but whose operation has been modified to ensure greater financial sustainability or

A more diversified overall farm operation, while continuing, at least in part, as a dairy or

A different type of non-dairy farm operation

The farmland needs to meet the following region-specific criteria

At least 58 acres

At least 32% of the land is in active agricultural production

At least 5% of the soils classified by NRCS as prime or statewide significant

 

If you sold your dairy cows within 12 month of submission, you are still eligible to apply.  Rental land is also eligible provided it is used for the dairy operation.

 

The grant project may cover anywhere from 75-100% of the total project costs depending on whether local matches are available.  Most farmers elect 87.5% which is the highest state funding payout option to cover the cost of their development rights and project related transaction expenses.  ASA writes the grants at no cost to the farmers.

 

For more information call (518) 692-7295 or email chris@agstewardship.org or renee@agstewardship.org.

 

New Farmer Grant Fund

The grant fund will help farmers improve farm profitability through one or both of the following goals:

  • Expanding agricultural production, diversifying agricultural production and/or extending the agricultural season; and/or
  • Advancing innovative techniques that increase sustainable agricultural production practices such as organic farming, food safety, reduction of farm waste and/or water use.

Grants may provide a minimum of $15,000 and a maximum of $50,000 for up to 50% of total project costs.  The remaining 50% must be matched by the recipient.  Eligible sources of recipient match are limited to cash, lines of credit and loans.  Other grant funds may not be used as matching funds.  For any award the total project cost must be at least twice the grant award request.

Eligible Farmers/Farms (all criteria below must be met):

  • A farm operation located wholly within New York State which produces an agricultural product as defined by the Guidelines; and
  • The farm operation must have a minimum of $10,000 in farm income from sales of agricultural products grown or raised on the applicant’s farm operation as reflected in either personal or business 2017 tax returns; and
  • All owners must be New York State Residents of at least 18 years of age; and
  • As of April 1, 2018, all owners must be in the first ten years of having an ownership interest in any farm operation; and
  • All owners must materially and substantially participate in the day-to-day production of an agricultural product grown or raised on the farm operation.

Eligible Expenditures:
Eligible costs include the purchase of new or used machinery and equipment, supplies, and/or construction or improvement of physical structures used exclusively for agricultural purposes.

Deadline
Applications must be postmarked by January 25, 2019.  It is anticipated grant awards will be announced in late Spring/early Summer 2019.

Questions should be sent to Bonnie Devine at nyfarmfund@esd.ny.gov.

NY Grown & Certified Agricultural Producer’s Grant Program

Participating in New York State Grown & Certified tells consumers that you adhere to higher standards in terms of food safety and environmental stewardship, making consumers more likely to purchase your products. Meet your customers’ growing demand for foods that are locally grown and produced with higher standards. Whether you are a grocery retailer or a restaurant in New York State, it’s easy to connect with New York State Grown & Certified growers and producers.

​HVADC is partnering directly with Hudson Mohawk Resource Conservation & Development Council (HMRCD) to create a one-stop-shop for farmers interested in pursuing certification through the G&C process. HMRCD, whose territory will cover the Capital District REDC (Albany, Columbia, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, and Schenectady counties), will help farmers apply for state funds for capital improvements related to food safety, identify sources of financing and provide access to technical assistance.

If you are interested in the Grown and Certified Program or becoming GAP Certified and would like assistance with the planning process please contact HVADC Program Associate, Jennifer Bock at jbock@hvadc.org or 518-432-5360 x303.

To participate in this program, farms must:

  • Become third-­‐party certified that Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) are being implemented, mainly that food products are produced,packed, handled, and stored as safely as possible, reducingthe chances of microbial contamination
  • Develop an Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) plan with their County’s Soil and Water Conservation District.

Eligible Agricultural Producers

  • Must be commercial operations producing an agricultural product and are located wholly within New York State.
  • Agricultural products include (but are not limited to): Fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy products, meat products, poultry products, fish products, grain products, honey, nuts

Funding Available to Agricultural Producers

  • Up to 90% of the total project cost not to exceed $50,000 will be made available to eligible agricultural producers.
  • Eligible agricultural producers must provide at least 10% of the total project cost. Eligible matching funds include cash, grants or loans.

Eligible Costs

  • Capital costs of meeting food safety standards such as:

Machinery, Equipment, Construction, Acquisition of buildings

Ineligible Costs

Working Capital, Purchase of land

 

Agricultural producers receiving funding through this program will be required to participate in the New York State Grown & Certified Program.

Awardees will have 5 years from the date of execution of a contract to spend all programs funds.

 

NYSERDA Programs

Agriculture Energy Audit Program

NYSERDA offers technical assistance to identify energy efficiency measures for eligible farms and on-farm producers, including but not limited to: dairies, orchards, greenhouses, vegetables, vineyards, grain dryers, and poultry/egg. NYSERDA will assign Flexible Technical Assistance (FlexTech) Program Consultants to perform energy audits for eligible farms.

Who Can Apply

Farms must be customers of a New York State investor-owned electric utility and pay the System Benefits Charge (SBC). Please check your farm’s current utility bills.

How it Works

You can request the level of energy audit that best fits your farm’s needs. NYSERDA will assign a Flexible Technical Assistance Consultant to visit your farm and perform an energy audit at no cost to you.

Level Audit Activities Type of Report that the Farm Receives
Comprehensive Detailed energy audit Energy audit report with calculated evaluations of appropriate energy efficiency measures including simple payback; meets ANSI/ASABE S612 standards
Targeted Energy audit focused on specific systems, energy efficiency measures, or renewable energy System-specific energy analysis report

$3,500,000 is available to fund audits. NYSERDA reserves the right to extend and/or adjust funding for audits should other program funding sources become available.

How to Apply

Download, complete, and submit the Agriculture Energy Audit application [PDF].  You can submit your application vial email to aeep@nyserda.ny.gov or mail your application to:

NYSERDA
Attn: Agriculture Energy Audit Program Administrator
17 Columbia Circle Albany, NY 12203-6399

 

 

 

 

National Grid Programs

Agricultural Discount

The Residential Agricultural Discount Program is an electricity rate discount applied to the electricity delivery charge, available since September 1, 2014, to eligible National Grid residential agricultural customers, as a result of funding through the New York Power Authority (NYPA) ReCharge New York program.

You are eligible to receive the Residential Agricultural Discount if you meet the two conditions noted below:

  1. You have an active National Grid account billed under residential electric service classification – Electric SC1 or Electric SC1C; refer to page 2 of your bill
  2. You are an agricultural customer who has submitted either:
  • Internal Revenue Service Form (“IRS”) – Schedule F (Form 1040) -Profit or Loss From Farming as filed with the customer’s most recent federal income tax return; or,

    • IRS Form 1120, 1120S, or 1065 as filed with the customer’s most recent federal income tax return. The Business Activity indicated on the form must be one of the Business Activity codes listed below:

 

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
Crop Production
111100 – Oilseed & Grain Farming
111210 – Vegetable & Melon Farming (including potatoes & yams)
111300 – Fruit & Tree Nut Farming
111400 – Greenhouse, Nursery, & Floriculture Production
111900 – Other Crop Farming (including tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, hay, peanut, sugar beet & all other crop farming)
Animal Production
112111 – Beef Cattle Ranching & Farming
112112 – Cattle Feedlots
112120 – Dairy Cattle & Milk Production
112210 – Hog & Pig Farming
112300 – Poultry & Egg Production
112400 – Sheep & Goat Farming 112510 – Aquaculture (including shellfish & finfish farms & hatcheries)
112900 – Other Animal Production
Forestry and Logging
113110 – Timber Tract Operations
113210 – Forest Nurseries & Gathering of Forest Products
113310 – Logging
Fishing, Hunting and Trapping
114110 – Fishing
114210 – Hunting & Trapping

 

Agri-Business Productivity Program

The Agri-Business Productivity Program provides incentives for the installation of energy efficiency, renewable energy delivery and/or productivity improvements undertaken by dairy farms, commercial farms, food processing businesses and controlled environment agricultural facilities located within the Company’s service territory.

Application requests may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Energy efficiency lighting, ballasts, fixtures, and lighting controls;
  • AC Energy Efficient Motors and electronic speed control devices;
  • Ventilation fans driven by AC Motors;
  • Centrifugal pumps driven by AC Motors;
  • Process equipment driven by AC Motors and controls;
  • Renewable energy projects directly serving the facility (anaerobic digestion, solar, bio-mass, or hydro power); and
  • In addition, the project costs can include the costs associated with renovating/retrofitting customer distribution systems (i.e. building wiring/grounding).

 

Minimum Program Requirements: Please review the program requirements and guidelines below prior to completing an application for funding.

Note: Program assistance is only available to customers in good standing, located within National Grid’s Upstate New York franchise territory. Applicants must be current in payments with National Grid or have executed a deferred payment agreement with the Company.

To be eligible for this program, the applicant must:

  • Be a dairy farm, commercial farm, food processing business and/or controlled environment agriculture facility in the National Grid Upstate service territory.

 

To be eligible for this program, the facility (business or farm) must:

  • Receive electric or natural gas service from National Grid; and
  • Be undertaking an energy efficiency project through any public agency or utility program; OR
  • Purchasing/installing equipment for a renewable energy project to serve facility; OR
  • Constructing/upgrading (for increased energy efficiency) a new controlled environment agriculture facility.

 

 

 

Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans & Grants in New York

Applications for Grants of $20,000 or Less | Guaranteed Loan/Grant of $20,000 or Less Combo Applications

  • October 31, 2018 or
  • April 1, 2019

Applications for Unrestricted Grants | Guaranteed Loan/Unrestricted Grant Combo Applications

  • April 1, 2019

Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants

  • January 31, 2019

Guaranteed Loans

  • Continuous Application Cycle

FY 2019 Funding Amounts (Pending any funding received in any continuing resolution or the final appropriations act)

Guaranteed Loans: TBD
Unrestricted Grants: TBD
Grants of $20,000 or Less: TBD

What does this program do?
Provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements.

Who may apply?

  • Agricultural producers with at least 50% of gross income coming from agricultural operations, and
  • Small businesses in eligible rural areas.

NOTE:  Agricultural producers and small businesses must have no outstanding delinquent federal taxes, debt, judgment or debarment.

What is an eligible area?

  • Businesses must be in an area other than a city or town with a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants and the urbanized area of that city or town. Check eligible business addresses.
  • Agricultural producers may be in rural or non-rural areas.

How may the funds be used?
Funds may be used for renewable energy systems, such as:

  • Biomass (for example: biodiesel and ethanol, anaerobic digesters, and solid fuels)
  • Geothermal for electric generation or direct use
  • Hydropower below 30 megawatts
  • Hydrogen
  • Small and large wind generation
  • Small and large solar generation
  • Ocean (tidal, current, thermal) generation

Funds may also be used for the purchase, installation and construction of energy efficiency improvements, such as:

  • High efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC)
  • Insulation
  • Lighting
  • Cooling or refrigeration units
  • Doors and windows
  • Electric, solar or gravity pumps for sprinkler pivots
  • Switching from a diesel to electric irrigation motor
  • Replacement of energy-inefficient equipment

What funding is available?

  • Loan guarantees on loans up to 75% of total eligible project costs
  • Grants for up to 25% of total eligible project costs
  • Combined grant and guaranteed loan funding up to 75% of total eligible project costs

What are the guaranteed loan terms?

  • $5,000 minimum loan amount
  • $25 million maximum loan amount
  • Up to 85% loan guarantee
  • Rates and terms negotiated with the lender and subject to USDA approval
  • Maximum term of 30 years for real estate
  • Maximum term of 15 years for machinery and equipment
  • Maximum term of 7 years for capital loans
  • Maximum term of 30 years for combined real estate and equipment loans

What are the grant terms?
Renewable Energy System Grants:

  • $2,500 minimum
  • $500,000 maximum

Energy Efficiency Grants:

  • $1,500 minimum
  • $250,000 maximum

Are there additional requirements?

  • Applicants must provide at least 75% of the project cost if applying for a grant only.
  • Applicants must provide at least 25% of the project cost if applying for guaranteed loan, or guaranteed loan and grant combination.
  • Projects greater than $200,000 require a technical report.
  • Energy efficiency projects require an energy audit or assessment.

How do we get started?

  • Applications for this program are accepted year round at your local office.

Who can answer questions?
Contact your State Rural Development Energy Coordinator.

 

USDA FSA Programs

 

The PLC program provides payments when the market year average price for a covered commodity falls below the crop’s reference price specified in the 2014 Farm Bill.

 

The ARC-CO program provides revenue loss protection for revenue losses at the county level. A determination regarding revenue loss for each covered commodity with enrolled bases acres in the county will be made after the market year average price is published by USDA.

The ARC-IC program provides revenue loss protection for revenue losses determined at the farm level.  A determination regarding revenue loss for each covered commodity planted on the farm will be made after the market year average price is published by USDA.

Program eligibility and compliance requirements include:

  • Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation
  • Payment Limitation
  • Adjusted Gross Income
  • A complete acreage report for the farm
  • production reporting (if participating in  ARC-IC)
  • Actively Engaged in Farming
  • Annually enrolling the farm
  • Planting flexibility requirements
  • Minimal base acre requirements and exceptions for socially disadvantaged and limited resource farmers

The Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) is a voluntary risk management program for dairy producers authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill through Dec. 31, 2018. Significant changes to MPP-Dairy for the 2018 coverage year are further authorized by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. The MPP-Dairy offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

Direct Farm Operating loans are a valuable resource to start, maintain and strengthen a farm or ranch. For new agricultural producers, FSA direct farm operating loans provide an essential gateway into agricultural production by financing the cost of operating a farm. All FSA direct loans are financed and serviced by the Agency through local Farm Loan Officers and Farm Loan Managers. The funding comes from Congressional appropriations as part of the USDA budget.

The focus of Microloans is on the financing needs of small, beginning farmer, niche and non-traditional farm operations, such as truck farms, farms participating in direct marketing and sales such as farmers’ markets, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), restaurants and grocery stores, or those using hydroponic, aquaponic, organic and vertical growing methods.

FSA’s Direct Farm Ownership loan

No current or previous farm ownership requirements and 100 percent financing available make FSA direct farm ownership loans a valuable resource to help farmers and ranchers become owner-operators of family farms, improve and expand current operations, increase agricultural productivity, and assist with land tenure to save farmland for future generations.

All FSA direct loans are financed and serviced by the Agency through local Farm Loan Officers and Farm Loan Managers. The funding comes from Congressional appropriations as part of the USDA budget.

The Guaranteed Farm Loan Programs helps family farmers and ranchers to obtain loans from USDA-approved commercial lenders at reasonable terms to buy farmland or finance agricultural production. Financial institutions receive additional loan business as well as benefit from the safety net the FSA provides by guaranteeing farm loans up to 95 percent against possible financial loss of principal and interest.

The EZ Guarantee Program is available for smaller loans.  This program provides a simplified Guaranteed Loan application process to help small, new or underserved family farmers with early financial assistance.   The EZ Guarantee is available for loan applications up to $100,000 for farm operating or farm ownership purposes.  Lenders need only submit one application form per loan request containing all necessary information for the application. No other supporting documents will typically be required.  In addition, streamlined financial underwriting is available for these loans, allowing all approved lenders to analyze the request in the same manner in which they would analyze a nonguaranteed loan request of the same size and type.  All existing eligibility, loan purpose, security, and other requirements remain the same.

The Emergency loan program is triggered when a natural disaster is designated by the Secretary of Agriculture or a natural disaster or emergency is declared by the President under the Stafford Act. These loans help producers who suffer qualifying farm related losses directly caused by the disaster in a county declared or designated as a primary disaster or quarantine area. Also, farmers located in counties that are contiguous to the declared, designated, or quarantined area may qualify for Emergency loans.

For production losses, a 30% reduction in a primary crop in a designated or contiguous county is required. Losses to quality, such as receiving a 30% reduced price for flood damaged crops, may be eligible for assistance, too.

USDA NRCS Programs

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation or improved or created wildlife habitat.

The Conservation Stewardship Program helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resources concerns. Participants earn CSP payments for conservation performance—the higher the performance, the higher the payment.

The Agricultural Management Assistance Program (AMA) helps agricultural producers use conservation to manage risk and solve natural resource issues through natural resources conservation. NRCS administers the AMA conservation provisions while the Agricultural Marketing Service and the Risk Management Agency implement other provisions under AMA.

Through the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program, the Natural Resources Conservation Service can help communities address watershed impairments that pose imminent threats to lives and property. Most EWP work is for the protection of threatened infrastructure from continued stream erosion.

 

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