Grants can aid in produce operations

by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Applying to grants early can make the difference between obtaining funding and not. Elizabeth Higgins, Extension specialist Ag Business Management, spoke about upcoming grants in a recent webinar hosted by Cornell. Higgins works for the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Hudson Valley Research Lab in Highland, NY.

Higgins said the funding for the Local Agriculture Market Program will provide $50 million annually in mandatory funding.

“It combines the grant application process for value-added agriculture producer program with the farmers’ market and local food promotion program,” Higgins said. “It requires certain grant recipients to include the impact on farmers and food businesses.”

Both farmers and other for-profit businesses have been eligible to apply in the past, including those involved in local food promotion through a food hub or wholesaling.

“It’s unclear as to how that will be funded going forward, but they do anticipate funding,” she said.

She added that those interested should monitor www.ams.usda.gov to remain aware of when the grant application opens, which should happen within weeks.

Additional sources of funding include FarmOps scholarships, meant for military personnel.

Funded by Cornell Small Farms Program, which receives funding from New York State Ag & Markets, the purpose is to “grant scholarships to veterans and active duty personnel who attend educational events and workshops,” Higgins said. “The program currently offers reimbursement on eligible costs for agricultural trainings on a first-come, first-serve basis, while funds are available.”

Currently, participants’ travel expenses and event registration are included as eligible costs. The maximum funding is $100 daily, with multi-day events possibly eligible for higher rates. Participants will need to complete forms and turn in copies of receipts and an event evaluation form.

Those interested in applying should contact Dean Koyanagi at drk5@cornell.edu or 607.255.9911.

Farmers operating as certified organic or pursuing certification should consider the Organic Certification Grant, funded by USDA. Applications go through local USDA FSA offices.

“It provides cost sharing to farmers to help them obtain or renew their certification under the National Organic Program,” Higgins said.

Operators may receive up to 75 percent of their costs paid for certification up to $750.

Good Agricultural Practices (GAPS) Certification Assistance Program, funded by the NYS Department of Ag & Markets, helps growers receive GAPS certifications “by reimbursing growers and handlers the cost, up to $1,000, of GAP and GHP audits, as well as the costs of water testing,” Higgins said. “Reimbursement is available for two times for two audits.”

She added that any applicants who have received the reimbursement before are eligible for reimbursement for a second time only.

The funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis through the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Those interested can apply at www.agriculture.ny.gov.

Farmers who want to improve their environmental impact should consider the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

“It is a voluntary program that provides financial aid and technical assistance to eligible agricultural producers who are willing to address priority environmental issues by implementing conservation practices,” Higgins said.

The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized the funding of the project, but the amount varies by farm project. To learn about the deadlines and to apply, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov.

Another environmentally-minded grant, the Agricultural Environmental Management grant (AEM) offers “financial and technical assistance to eligible agricultural producers who are willing to address priority environmental issues by implementing conservation practices,” Higgins said. “The focus is on water quality.”

AEM is on a rolling deadline basis and is tied to the completion of an AEM plan. Producers should contact their county’s Soil and Water Conservation District to complete an AEM Plan.

“Some of the programs will be announced soon, so if you’re interested you should have heightened awareness,” Higgins said.

2019-05-20T08:34:25-05:00May 20, 2019|Eastern Edition, Western Edition|0 Comments

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