Financing Options for Beginning a Farm
Before investigating the possibility of grants to start a farm, please consult the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project site by Cornell University for important advice.
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is a branch of the United States Department of Agriculture. The County Office administers farm commodity, conservation, disaster and loan programs. FSA makes direct and guaranteed farm ownership and operating loans to family-size farmers who cannot obtain commercial credit from a bank, Farm Credit System institution or other lender. Local FSA offices are in Pittsfield, Dighton, Greenfield, Hadley, Westford, West Wareham and Holden, Mass.
Maximum grant request is $10,000 and requires a match. Deadlines are typically in mid-June. Other grant programs are available for more established farms.
NRCS offers financial incentives to farmers to install conservation practices that will protect and conserve natural resources, i.e. water, soil, etc.
The farmer must produce a conservation plan in order to access funds.
USDA’s Small Farm Funding Resources will lead you to many different sites, some from states other than Massachusetts. Remember that each state offers its own programs and ones that appear in Pennsylvania may not be in this state. The federal programs would apply to all states.
Farm Credit East (formerly First Pioneer Farm Credit) offers FarmStart loans to start-ups that have good business plans and need the “last critical dollar” of funding.
Equity Trust, Inc. is an Amherst, Mass.-based private non-profit. Technical assistance available on land tenure issues, e.g. alternative approaches to farm ownership, model documents, more.
The Carrot Project provides loans to small Massachusetts farms for projects that improve their operations, increase their income, and/or address emergency needs. They favor organic operations.