How Can You Apply for USDA Small Farm Grants?

Farmers can apply for a variety of small-farm grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Most grants are provided to farmers who complete specific research or who develop value-added, farming-related products rather than those who want to start a new farm, according to Start-up money is usually available only through loans.

The USDA operates a database of available grants that farmers can search by keyword, according to the department. Among the grants regularly available are those from Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education, a division of the USDA. These grants range from $500 to $15,000, and they fund the study of sustainable growing methods, including crop rotation and the use of cover crops.

Farmers can also apply for grants through their state agriculture departments and private foundations. Grants often include free tuition for educational conferences and financial assistance for organic certifications, notes A National Sustainable Agriculture Assistance Program.

Most grant providers don't pay all the costs of a research program, forcing farmers to foot some of the bill, advises. Farmers must keep detailed records of how they spend grant money and whether they meet the grant expectations. Farmers also must report grant money as income, which can affect their taxes.