Agriculture and Food Supply are industries that are core to keeping the world fed and healthy, and there are a variety of resources that small farm/business owners can utilize during this difficult time.
Loans and Grants
There are various programs that small farmers can take advantage of keeping their businesses afloat if they were affected by COVID-19 or other reasons.
National Programs: United States Dept. Of Agriculture - Farm Service Agency
While FSA is fully committed to all farmers and ranchers, there is a special focus on the particular credit needs of farmers and ranchers who are in their first 10 years of operation. Each year, FSA targets a portion of its lending by setting aside a portion of all loan funds for financing beginning farmer and rancher operations.
By providing access to credit, FSA’s Farm Loan Programs offer opportunities to family-sized farmers and ranchers to start, improve, expand, transition, market, and strengthen family farming and ranching operations through direct operating loans, microloans, direct farm ownership loans, and guaranteed loans.
State/Regional Programs: Massachusetts & Non-Profits
The EFF will be re-opened to accept applications from farms in Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties, Massachusetts, that have been affected by COVID-19. Loans are available for eligible farms that have suffered income loss because of farmers’ market, restaurant, and college closures or other disruptions due to COVID-19. Zero-interest loans are available up to $25,000.
Farmers and food entrepreneurs obtain flexible financing and technical assistance that helps grow their businesses. The PVGrows Investment Fund has financing available for equipment, working capital, startup expenses, and more. The Fund is designed as an alternative for borrowers who may not qualify for more traditional bank financing. We offer competitive interest rates, flexible terms, and loan amounts ranging from $1,000 to $250,000. Loans are available for all types of local farm and food businesses– farms, restaurants, food retailers, food processors, wholesalers, and others.
The Massachusetts Farm and Food Loan Fund offers loans to farms and food enterprises in Massachusetts. The program focuses on small and midsized farms and food system enterprises using sustainable or organic practices or products. Food enterprises primariliy engaged in processing, storage or distribution of agricultural products are encouraged to apply. This loan fund is a partnership between The Carrot Project and the Franklin County Community Development Corporation, with financial backing from the Massachusetts Society for the Protection of Agriculture.
The Agricultural Produce Safety Improvement Program (APSIP) supports produce operations that are looking to improve their on-farm food safety practices that help minimize the risk of microbial contamination and food-borne illnesses. In addition, by implementing these practices the goals of the Program is to meet regulatory requirements under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and to increase competitive market access by meeting buyer demands for demonstrated practices that work towards protecting public health and food safety.
Farm Viability Enhancement Program (FVEP) provides business planning and technical assistance to help established farms identify strategies to increase farm viability such as, new or expanded enterprises, increased productivity, marketing, and/or environmental sustainability. Participants selected to participate in the program may be offered grant funds of $50,000 to $150,000 to implement strategies identified during the planning process in return for signing an agricultural covenant on the farm property to keep it in agricultural use for a 5 or 10 or 15-year term.
AIP provides business planning and technical assistance to commercial farms with land that has already been protected through MDAR’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program.
The program assists with issues of financial viability, resource conservation, family succession, modernization of infrastructure and other issues that may enhance the long term continued use of the agricultural resource. Grant funds of $40,000 - $120,000 may be available on a cost reimbursement basis, with a 25% required match, for capital infrastructure improvements on the farm identified through the planning process including resource improvements, new or improved agricultural buildings including barns, livestock housing, farmstands or processing facilities.
The Matching Enterprise Grants for Agriculture (MEGA) program assists beginning farmers who are between 1 and 6 years in business by providing technical assistance and business planning for farm improvement strategies. Grant funds of up to $10,000 are available on a 1:1 matching cost reimbursement basis to assist farmers whose goal is to raise agricultural products and who aspire to develop their farms into commercially viable operations. Funds are typically used for equipment, infrastructure, or other capital improvements to implement strategies identified during the planning process to help their business grow.