Grant funding for growers -- Part I

While not plentiful, grant opportunities for growers do exist. There are, however, important things to consider if you are interested in grant funding.

One of the most frequent requests made to Michigan State University Extension educators is for information about grant funding opportunities for growers and producers. While there aren’t limitless pools of money just waiting to be given away, there are a limited number of grants available to growers.  Having helped several growers receive grants, here are several tips I can provide.

First, although grant deadlines may seem far off, applications typically take several months to fine-tune so start planning now!  Review the grant requirements to ensure that you are eligible to apply and that your request is allowable.

Second, investigate what has been funded in prior years. This can provide a useful clue as to what is likely to be funded in the future. For example, final project reports of previously funded North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Farmer/Rancher grant are accessible on the NCR SARE website.

Third, begin to gather the requisite guidelines from each of the granting organizations. Guidelines will inform you of funding limits, allowable project length, and allowable uses of grant funds.

Fourth, make sure you address every question asked and exactly follow the grant details. If there is a page or word limit, stay within it. If there is a hard deadline, do not expect to submit the grant the following day. If you have questions call and talk to the granting agency -- it can never hurt to ask for more specific information.

Finally, have multiple people review your grant prior to submission. The more people you have review the grant the better. MSU Extension educators and other farmers may be able to provide advice.

Part II of this series covers more specific grants eligible to Michigan growers.

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