The ag sector has access to many different grant programs that can help you achieve your organization’s objectives. Although the process can be overwhelming, the idea of securing grant funding should not be overlooked as these can be extremely valuable opportunities.
Navigating the numerous programs and their various timelines and requirements can be confusing. Where can you find information about open opportunities? How do you determine which grants are right for you & your needs?
Bryant Christie Inc is regularly contacted by organizations wondering how and where to access grant funds. Over the years, we’ve developed expertise in securing and managing grants and we’ve helped our clients receive millions of dollars in grant funding. Below are a few tips and guidelines we’ve learned to help you get started.
What Grant Programs are Available for Food and Agribusinesses?
Grant funding is provided for the ag sector primarily through state departments of agriculture and USDA agencies such as the Foreign Agricultural Service, the Agricultural Marketing Service, the Rural Development Agency, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
BCI’s Market Development Unit has worked with many different grant programs for decades. The firm presently assists a number of agricultural trade associations and businesses with annual applications to the Market Access Program, Emerging Markets Program, Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops program, and Quality Samples Program. We also regularly work with the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, Value Added Producer Grant, and others.
We’re quite familiar with the requirements of these and other programs, with matching contribution and reporting obligations, and with the need for appropriate and measurable outcomes. But these are just a few of the places where grants are available.
Where Can You Find Grant Opportunities?
Opportunities generally become available on www.grants.gov for federal grants or are announced by the state department of agriculture for state-level programs. On grants.gov, you can search for open grants by category (ex: agriculture) and agency (ex: Agricultural Marketing Service). Or, you can subscribe directly to receive notifications on your search criteria or all available opportunities.
For state and local grants, the way announcements are published can vary. We would suggest monitoring your state department of agriculture’s website as well as signing up for any newsletters they distribute.
Depending on the specific grant program, the timing of solicitations and application period varies. Some opportunities are posted for a short period of time, while others have a longer lead time. Meanwhile, some grants are one-time opportunities, and others are annual and recurring. Becoming familiar with the cadence and cycle of opportunities via grants.gov or your state department of agriculture can help you get ahead of upcoming announcements and prepare to put together an application.
What Kinds of Projects Can be Funded Through Grants?
A wide range of projects can be funded through grants. Some broad categories include the following:
- Product development and feasibility studies
- Marketing and promotion
- Sustainability, conservation, and climate-smart initiatives
- Transitioning to organic production
- Distribution and processing system expansion
- Worker safety and workforce development
- Technical assistance
Determining which program and what funding area best suits your needs will require some strategic planning and preparation.
How to Get Started?
Before pursuing grant opportunities, we suggest your organization consider the following:
- What are your long- and short-term strategic priorities? Is there alignment with key stakeholders on these priorities? What tactics will be used to address them? What are the specific costs you hope to leverage grant funding to cover?
- How much of your own funding can be invested in these priorities and contributed to cost-share requirements?
- Do you have internal staff capacity to manage grant-funded projects and their administrative requirements, or will outside support be needed?
Answering these questions is an excellent starting point and will help you understand which specific grant resources may be appropriate for your organization.
If you’re overwhelmed at the prospect of navigating the grant world alone, we can help. BCI works with food, beverage, and agribusiness clients to think through these questions and pursue opportunities that align with their strategic objectives.
We monitor open grants on an ongoing basis and can act quickly to develop strong, complete applications. Let us help you fund your next project! Our team of account managers can speak with you about turning your idea into a reality.
Our team of account managers can speak with you about turning your idea into a reality.