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Contact Us

Laurie George
Extension Educator, Local Food Systems and Small Farms
University of Illinois Extension
4618 Broadway
Mt. Vernon, IL 62864
Phone: 618-242-0780
FAX: 618-242-0781

Grants and Loans

Grants and Loans

Grants and Grant Resources

  • Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches, and Communities PDF
    This guide is written for anyone seeking help from federal programs to foster innovative enterprises in agriculture and forestry in the United States. Specifically, the guide addresses program resources in community development; sustainable land management; and value-added and diversified agriculture and forestry. Thus, it can help farmers, entrepreneurs, community developers, conservationists, and many other individuals, as well as private and public organizations, both for-profit and not-for-profit. The guide can also help USDA and other agency employees become aware and take better advantage of the enormous array of federal programs and resources available to their clients in supporting agricultural and forestry innovations. This edition constitutes the guide's fifth printing and third complete update, incorporating programs from the 2008 Farm Bill.

  • Community Food Projects (CFP) Competitive Grants Program
    DEADLINE = NOVEMBER 30. 2016. In FY 2017 NIFA's CFP intends to solicit applications and fund two types of grants. The types are entitled (1) Community Food Projects (CFP) and (2) Planning Projects (PP). The primary goals of the CFP are to: Meet the food needs of low-income individuals through food distribution, community outreach to assist in participation in Federally assisted nutrition programs, or improving access to food as part of a comprehensive service; Increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for the food needs of the communities; Promote comprehensive responses to local food access, farm, and nutrition issues; and Meet specific state, local or neighborhood food and agricultural needs including needs relating to: Equipment necessary for the efficient operation of a project; Planning for long-term solutions; or The creation of innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers.

  • Farm Bill Programs & Grants - Overview
    Information from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Quick guide to federal farm and food-related programs and grants, organized by issue and by who is eligible to apply or sign up.

  • Find Financial Resources for Organic Farmers
    USDA offers several programs that help organic farmers and ranchers meet the natural resources conservation requirements of organic agriculture. Take a look at the list below and review our Organic Resource Guide (PDF, 1.8MB) to find programs that will work for you.

  • Frontera Farmer Foundation Grants
    The Frontera Farmer Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, is committed to promoting small, sustainable farms serving the Chicago area by providing them with capital development grants. The Foundation envisions a year-round interchange between sustainable farmers and consumers, including farmers' market patrons and chefs, in which seasonal local agriculture provides the foundation for sustainable regional cuisine.

  • Fund-a-Farmer Project
    The Fund-a-Farmer Project, a project of Food Animal Concerns Trust, awards grants for projects that help family farmers transition to pasture-based systems, improve the marketing of their humane products, or more generally to enrich the conditions in which the farm animals are raised. Together with our farmer partners, we are leading our country back to a food system that is both financially and ecologically sustainable.

  • Grants Advising for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers
    If you are a farmer who is a member of a historically socially disadvantaged group, you are invited to use a grants advising service of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute

  • Illinois Department of Agriculture C-2000 Sustainable Agriculture Grant Program
    A statewide grant program that provides grants in the areas of (1) On-Farm Research and Demonstration; (2) Outreach and Education; and (3) University Research

  • Illinois Department of Agriculture Illinois AgriFirst Grant Program
    AgriFIRST is the direct result of grassroots input generated from regional Ag Assembly meetings held in 2000. Those meetings brought together leaders in the agriculture community to address the challenges facing Illinois agriculture. Ag Assembly participants recommended the creation of a grant program to provide monies for feasibility studies and technical assistance for value-added projects that raise farmers' share of profits from the processing of raw commodities. AgriFIRST was created in 2001 and demonstrates the Department's commitment to the agriculture and food industry.

  • Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program
    Information about the national SARE program, the North Central Region SARE program as well as information about other funding resources.

  • Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food - Grants, Loans, and Support
    Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) is helping communities scale up local and regional food systems and strengthen their economies. Not every community will need the same assistance; and navigating USDA's offerings is no small task. We want to simplify the process and help communities put USDA programs to work for them, so we're playing matchmaker. This page lists over two dozen programs at USDA that can help build local and regional food systems. This list is not the entirety of USDA's offerings, but it is a great starting place.

  • Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
    MFAI’s Grant Advisory & Resources can help you apply to grants and cost-share programs of state or federal sources that could help you achieve your farming or ag-related business goals.

  • Natural Resources Grant Opportunities in Illinois
    The Department of Natural Resources has numerous programs available to assist with recreational, educational and environmental improvements and projects.

  • Organic Farming Research Foundation
    Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) aims to foster and improve the widespread adoption of organic farming systems. OFRF cultivates organic research, education, and federal policy that brings more farmers and acreage into organic production. Founded in 1990, OFRF is a leading champion of American organic family farmers.

  • The FruitGuys Community Fund
    Welcome to The FruitGuys Community Fund, a non-profit fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives. We support farms, farmers, and policies that allow for greater environmental and economic health.

  • USDA Farm Storage Facility Loans PDF
    Farm Storage Facility Loans (FSFL) provide low­interest financing for producers to build or upgrade farm storage and handling facilities to store eligible commodities they produce. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA).

  • USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Grant
    USDA announced the availability of $3.8 million to support research, education, and extension projects that will assist current organic producers and those transitioning into organic farming. The funding is available through the Organic Transitions Program, administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Applications due April 15, 2016

  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
    Website for the USDA NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers through contracts up to a maximum term of ten years in length. These contracts provide financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland.

  • USDA North Central Region (NCR) Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)
    The NCR SARE program has awarded more than $30 million worth of competitive grants to farmers and ranchers, researchers, educators, public and private institutions, nonprofit groups, and others exploring sustainable agriculture in 12 states.

  • USDA Rural Development - Notice of Funds Availability
    Rural Development achieves its mission by helping rural individuals, communities and businesses obtain the financial and technical assistance needed to address their diverse and unique needs. Rural Development works to make sure that rural citizens can participate fully in the global economy.

  • USDA Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG)
    Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the end goals of this program. You may receive priority if you are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative, or are proposing a mid-tier value chain, as defined in the Program Regulation.