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Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA)
This NRCS program provides financial and technical assistance to farms to address issues such as water management, water quality, and erosion control. Producers may construct or improve water management structures or irrigation structures; plant trees for windbreaks or to improve water quality; and mitigate risk through production diversification or resource conservation practices, including soil erosion control, integrated pest management, or transition to organic farming. More information is available online and from your local NRCS office. Applications are generally accepted on a rolling basis.
Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)
This NRCS grant program supports the development of new tools, approaches, practices, and technologies to further natural resource conservation on private lands. These grants fund innovative, on-the-ground conservation projects, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. Funds cannot be used to support technologies and approaches commonly used in the geographic area covered by the application (including those already eligible for funding through EQIP).
Conservation Reserve Program and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
These land conservation programs are administered by the Farm Service Agency. Through both programs, farmers receive an annual rental payment and/or other incentives in return for agreeing to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production for 10-15 years and planting species that will improve environmental health and quality. Additionally, the Transition Incentives Program provides incentives when land is being transitioned back into agricultural production, provided land owners sell or rent this land to a beginning farmer or rancher or to a socially disadvantaged group who will use sustainable farming practices.
Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
This NRCS program rewards farmers for protecting and enhancing natural resources on their working lands, offering incentives for resource-conserving practices such as cover cropping, rotational grazing, reduced tillage, ecological pest management, and much more. Find our new guide online here. Contact your local NRCS office for more information and to submit an application. The general application period is November through February.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
This NRCS program provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits. Practices eligible for incentives include organic transitions, integrated pest management, livestock fencing, irrigation, high tunnels, and energy projects. Note that EQIP now has an advance payment option (as opposed to only paying through reimbursement) for historically underserved producers – see more information on this option here. Applications are generally accepted on a rolling basis.
Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP)
Administered by the Farm Service Agency, ELAP provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish. It covers losses due to an eligible adverse weather or loss condition, including blizzards, disease (including cattle tick fever), water shortages and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary. ELAP covers losses that are not covered under other disaster assistance programs, such as the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). Applications are typically due by November 1st after the program year in which the loss occurred
Farm Labor Direct Loans and Grants
This Rural Development program provides grants and affordable financing to farms to develop housing for farmworkers. Funds can be used for construction, improvement, repair, and/or purchase of housing. Grants are awarded based on need and may not exceed 90% of project cost; financing is for a term of up to 33 years at a fixed rate of 1%. For more information, contact your local Rural Development office.
National Organic Certification Cost Share Program
This program provides cost share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products who are obtaining or renewing their certification under the National Organic Program. Certified operations may receive up to 50 percent of their certification costs paid during the program year, not to exceed $500 per certification scope. Applications are typically accepted in October.
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NESARE) Farmer Grants
A farmer-friendly grant process that supports farmers who want to test an innovative idea using a field trial, on-farm demonstration, marketing initiative, or other technique. Projects should seek new knowledge other farmers can use and address questions that are directly linked to improved profits, better stewardship, and stronger rural communities, and all projects must have the potential to add to our knowledge about effective sustainable practices. Applications are typically accepted starting in early fall.
Rollover Protective Structure Rebate Program
A program that will rebate 70% of the cost of purchasing and installing tractor retrofit equipment to prevent injuries in the event of a tractor rollover, up to a $865 maximum rebate.
Rural Business Development Grants (RBDG)
This Rural Development program supports rural projects that finance and facilitate development of small and emerging rural businesses. Individual farm businesses are NOT eligible to apply, but rural public entities, such as towns, and rural nonprofits often apply for projects that provide direct services to particular rural businesses. Application dates vary are based on the notice of federal funding availability.
Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Grants
These Rural Development grants support farms and rural small businesses in covering costs of energy audits, renewable energy technical assistance, and renewable energy site assessments. We recommend learning more about these and other energy-related grants through the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program, which helps farmers prepare applications for these federal funds. Farm Credit East can also provide energy-related grant-writing assistance. The application deadline is typically in late winter or early spring.
Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Grants and Loans
This Rural Development program provides grants and guaranteed loans support farms and rural small businesses in covering costs of renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. We recommend learning more about these and other energy-related grants through the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program, which helps farmers prepare applications for these federal funds. Farm Credit East can also provide energy-related grant-writing assistance. The application deadline is typically in late winter or early spring.
Value-Added Producer Grants
These Rural Development grants may be used for planning activities and for working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products. Note that the definition of “value-added” for purposes of this grant program includes processed products as well as a wide range of products marketed as locally grown or with other specialized attributes. Eligible applicants are independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures. Planning grants are available of up to $75,000 and working capital grants are available up to $250,000. Note that the USDA offers a simplified application process for working capital grants requesting less than $50,000, and unlike larger grant requests these simplified applications do not have to include an in-depth business planning and feasibility study. An excellent guide to applying for Value-Added Producer Grants is here. The application deadline is typically in spring.