Steps to Apply for Government Grants for Farmers in United States

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) describes America as the largest exporter of agricultural-based products. In America, sustainable farms offer many benefits to communities and society as they supply food, and oversee our soil, water, and wildlife habitat. However, with the rising cost of technology, Farming Organizations are in need of financial assistance to sustain their businesses. Although most funding offered to Producers is in the form of loans, there are grant programs opened to farmers to do research or for value-added product development.

Furthermore, the need for science and technology is rising in the Farming profession. Many experts agree that to run a successful business, a college education is preferable. Thus, the USDA will offer a Graduate Student Grant up to $25,000 for one-to-two years to earn a Masters or PhD. degree in Sustainable Agriculture. Anyone interested in this grant should apply by May 2015, through the University Financial Aid Office or through the USDA website.To further aid in the expansion of Agriculture, a Farmer may apply for a grant to allow on-farm research in areas that include renewable energy, pest and weed management, rotational grazing, cover crops, marketing and organic farming. The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Department (SARE) will provide a one-to-three year grant up to $15,000, while a group of three or more producers may earn up to $25,000. The 2015 Call for Proposals will open in April 2015.

Moreover, Producers can apply for grants for specialty items through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). The purpose of the grant is to promote the increase and competitiveness of specialty crops (e.g., fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, nursery crops, and floriculture). Organizations or Individuals can apply for the grant through their State Department of Agriculture.

In addition, the Department of Agriculture details that in the 20th century more than 20 percent of workers had jobs in farming, yet, in the 21st century about two percent of the nation worked as farm hands. Therefore, in order to help Farmers retain their staff, the Department of Agriculture developed a Farm Labor Housing Loan and Grant to help provide quarters for farm workers in low-rent housing.

For additional opportunities, an Organization should further research their market on the Grant.gov website. The Grant.gov FIND feature will provide a summary of all available funding prospects for grants and cooperative agreements under the numerous opened programs. You can search by agency, category of activity, Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance number, and other factors.

Note: prior to applying for a grant, an organization should have a Business Plan that describes your goals and how you expect to accomplish your proposal. A well-conceived Business Plan will list the items needed and devise a system on how to implement your objectives. The Start2Farm.gov website has educational resources to help you devise a plan for your business.

The application process begins at the Grants.gov website. The process consists of the following steps:

However, before completing your application you must have the following:

A Duns Numbers: if your organization does not have a Duns Number (from Duns and Bradstreet), log on to the Dun & Bradstreet website at http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform to obtain a number. If you have registered previously you can retrieve the number by phone at 1-866-705-5711, if needed.

You will also need a Marketing Partner ID (MPIN), which is a personal code that your E-business Point of Contact (E-Biz POC), creates during registration with the SAM. The MPIN acts as a password, and its purpose is to assign Authorized Organization Representatives (AOR).

Your business must confirm its registration with the SAM (System for Award Management) website at https://www.sam.gov/portal/SAM/##11. SAM is the Official U.S. Government system that consolidated the capabilities of ORCA, and EPLS. Companies may register at no cost directly from this page. If your organization is not registered, an authorizing official of your organization must enroll. If you have questions or concerns about your SAM registration, please contact the Federal Support desk at https://www.fsd.gov.

Next, establish your Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) profile on Grants.gov and create your username and password. You will need your DUNS Number to complete this step.

The E-Business Point of Contact (E-Biz POC) at your organization must log in to Grants.gov to confirm you as an Authorized Organization Representative (AOR).

Now you are ready to download a grant application package. The application will ask for the Funding Opportunity number (e.g., USDA-NIFA-ICGP-004958). If you do not have that number, you can search the available Grants.gov FIND page.

Complete the package offline, and save the changes as you go, the website will not automatically save your input. Check the package for errors. Then click the "Save & Submit" button on the cover page. Your application package will upload to Grants.gov. The website recommends that Grantees submit their completed application packages, for all opportunities, at least 24-48 hours before the Closing Date.

Wait for the confirmation screen that will appear after the submission is complete. At the bottom of the screen, a tracking number will appear, as well as the official date and time of the submission. Record the tracking number so that you may refer to it should you need to contact the agency or check the status of your application.

Note: Individuals are those submitting funding grant applications on their behalf, and not on behalf of a company. If you are registering as an individual, you are entitled to apply for funding opportunities that are only open to individuals. Persons wishing to submit a grant application, using Grants.gov, are required to complete this one time registration process. However, neither a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number nor the System for Award Management (SAM, formerly CCR) registration is necessary for Individual Registration.