Several boxes must be checked by producers interested in successfully obtaining grant money for projects such as energy efficiency upgrades and value-added agriculture, says Sarah Beth Aubrey, founder, Prosperity Consulting in Monrovia, Ind. She developed the following five-step process:
Project. Your proposal is mapped out, can be described with measurable outcomes to an agency and includes an exact cost.
Peruse. Look for grants using free resources such as USDA offices, Extension services, trade groups and grant agencies.
Ponder. Once you’ve identified a grant, determine whether you meet all of the terms. Reach out to professionals or the grant agency itself. “Do not be afraid to tell them about your project to determine if it’s an eligible fit,” Aubrey says. “Ask peers who’ve won grants.”
Prepare. Put everything together in an application. Compile financial statements to verify your farm operation is viable and a for-profit business. Tax returns and articles of incorporation should be used to show how the business is structured. Some programs require farmers to demonstrate how the project will cash flow. Obtain quotes from contractors. Document you will have the matching funds ready if you are the award recipient.
Patience. Turn in the application by the deadline. Expect to wait as little as 30 days for state grants to be approved and up to six months or more for federal grants. Agencies often provide a time range for selecting winning applicants.