UTIA Family, please refer utk.edu/coronavirus for the latest updates and student information. For UTIA-specific resources, please visit utia.tennessee.edu/coronavirus .

Funding Opportunities

Financing a value-added agriculture enterprise is challenging. While most funds for new businesses come from personal sources, grant and loan programs may also be available. Check out the opportunities below to see if they fit your business needs.

Federal grant programs currently require a DUNS number and registration in SAMS.gov. Learn about the process to get a DUNS number in this webinar recording.

This information is provided for educational purposes only. Program information may change frequently. Be sure to read current program information available from the administrating agency.

If you have questions about funding opportunities, email Hal Pepper.


Grant Programs

Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund

Description

The Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund is a small grant program that provides direct assistance to veterans who are in their beginning years of farming or ranching. The Fellowship Fund does not give money directly to the veteran, but rather to third-party vendors for items the veteran has identified will make a crucial difference in the launch of their farm business.

Maximum Funding Request

Awards range from $1,000 to $5,000.

Funding Agency

Farmer Veteran Coalition

Website

Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Producer Grants

Description

Producer Grants enable farmers to test a sustainable agriculture idea using a field trial, on-farm demonstration, marketing initiative or other technique in one of the following focus areas: (1) Beneficial Insect Habitat, (2) Alternative Crops/Animals, (3) Organic Agriculture, (4) Sustainable Marketing Projects, (5) Sustainable Grazing Systems, (6) Soil Organic Matter Building/Protection/Management, (7) Increasing Sustainability of Existing Farming Practices, (8) Appropriate Technology or (9) Agroforestry.

Maximum Funding Request

Individual farmers, $15,000; Farmer groups, $20,000 for a two-year project

Match Required

None

Funding Agency

Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)

Website

Specialty Crop Block Grant

Description

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funds are granted to enhance production and competitiveness of specialty crops, including fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, tree nuts, honey, floriculture and other nursery crops. Eligible organizations include universities, institutions, cooperatives, producers and industry or community-based organizations. The programs aims to support projects that directly affect multiple Tennessee producers and have a positive, long-lasting impact on Tennessee agriculture.

Maximum Funding Request

First-time recipients have a funding limit of $25,000.

Match Required

None

Funding Agency

Tennessee Department of Agriculture administers the grants, which are authorized through the USDA.

Website

Southeast Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives (DBII) Grant

Description

The DBII grant provides grant subawards to current and prospective value-added dairy businesses (cow, goat and sheep) across Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina. Dairy businesses must develop, produce, market or distribute dairy products.

Maximum Funding Request

The maximum grant amount is $500,000. The program will support projects of many sizes, but applicants whose request exceeds $150,000 should operate a permitted dairy farm and/or dairy plant, utilize a large portion of local milk and include a robust business plan.

Match Required

None

Funding Agency

The University of Tennessee is administering this grant which originates from USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.

Website

Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program: Producer Diversification Cost-Share

Description

The goal of the Producer Diversification program is to encourage agricultural producers to expand or improve their working farm/existing operation through the production of diversified agricultural products. This program provides cost share opportunities for industry sectors of Agritourism, Fruit & Vegetable, Honey Bee, Horticulture, Organic and Value-Added Products.

Maximum Funding Request

The maximum funding request is $12,000.

Match Required

Yes. All approved applicants are eligible for 35% (Standard Producer) cost share. To be eligible for 50% (Master Producer), the approved applicant must complete the special requirements for the sector in which their project is eligible. Special requirements focus on education and include conferences, courses, events, master courses, workshops and specific certifications.

Funding Agency

Website

Tennessee Agricultural Enterprise Fund

Description

The Ag Enterprise Fund (AEF) awards grants to startiing or expanding agricultural, food and forestry businesses; nonprofits, local governments and other entities in Tennessee, or those whose project will be located in Tennessee. The program focuses on value-added and processing projects that benefit other producers or forest landowners. Successful grant recipients must demonstrate a strong potential for impact on local farm income, access to markets, increased capacity or agricultural innovation.

Maximum Funding Request

AEF funds may not be more than 25% of the project’s total budget.

Match Required

Yes, AEF funds may not be more than 25% of the project’s total budget.

Funding Agency

Tennessee Department of Agriculture

Website

Value-Added Producer Grant

Description

The Value-Added Producer Grant program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and marketing of new products. The goals of this program are to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities and increase producer income. Priority may be received for beginning farmers, socially-disadvantaged farmers or small or medium-sized farms structured as a family farm, a farmer cooperative or those proposing a mid-tier value chain.

Maximum Funding Request

Planning Grants $75,000; Working Capital Grants $250,000

Match Required

Yes, there is a statutory cost share match requirement of 100 percent of the grant amount. In 2021 there were also COVID-19 relief funds with a reduced cost share match requirement of 10 percent of the grant award.

Funding Agency

USDA Rural Development. Find your area office.

Website


Loan Programs

Description

The focus of Microloans is on the financing needs of small, beginning farmer, niche and non-traditional farm operations, such as truck farms, farms participating in direct marketing and sales such as farmers’ markets, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), restaurants and grocery stores, or those using hydroponic, aquaponic, organic and vertical growing methods. There are two types of microloan programs available: Direct Farm Ownership Microloans and Direct Farm Operating Microloans

Maximum Funding Request

Applicants may apply for microloans totaling a combined maximum of $100,000: Up to $50,000 for a farm ownership loan and up to $50,000 for an operating loan.

Funding Agency

USDA Farm Service Agency – Contact your local office.

Website