Federal Funding Programs
Federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP)Opens In A New Window is among several grant programs provided through the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA/AMS). The purpose of the SCBGP is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, which are defined as "fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture)." The grants are awarded and administered at the state level, with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture coordinating the program on behalf of the commonwealth. Awards are provided on a yearly basis based upon funding provided by USDA/AMS.
Guidelines & Uses
Eligible applicants include state and/or local organizations, producer associations, academia, community-based organizations, and other specialty crops stakeholders.
SCBGP grant funds will be awarded for projects of up to two years in duration.
Projects aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops include, but are not limited to:
- Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops
- Participation of industry representatives at meetings of international standard setting bodies in which the U.S. government participates
- Improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems
- Assisting all entities in the specialty crop distribution chains in developing "Good Agricultural Practices," "Good Handling Practices," "Good Manufacturing Practices," and in cost-share arrangements for funding audits of such systems for small farmers, packers and processors
- Investing in specialty crop research, including organic research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes
- Enhancing food safety; developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops;
- Pest and disease control
SCBGP funds are awarded for projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops and benefit the specialty crop industry as a whole. Grant funds will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit a particular commercial product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual. Projects must enhance specialty crop industry competitiveness.
Pandemic Related Assistance
We know forms can be daunting. That's why the Farm Service Agency's video series provides a step-by-step look at form AD-3117, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) application. FSA staff talk through each section of the form in eight simple videos, from the producer agreement to information that is commodity specific. You can work directly with FSA staff at your local USDA Service Center for personalized, one-on-one assistance with completing your application. Check out the USDA's website at farmers.gov/cfap.
Farm Storage Facility Loan Program
The Farm Storage Facility Loan Program (FSFL) provides low-interest financing so producers can build or upgrade facilities to store commodities. Eligible commodities include grains, oilseeds, peanuts, pulse crops, hay, honey, renewable biomass commodities, fruits and vegetables, floriculture, hops, maple sap, milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, eggs, meat/poultry (unprocessed), rye and aquaculture.
Eligible facility types include grain bins, hay barns, bulk tanks, and facilities for cold storage. Drying and handling and storage equipment is also eligible, including storage and handling trucks. Eligible facilities and equipment may be new or used, permanently affixed or portable.
Learn more about the facility loan programs.
Small Business Administration 504
The CDC/504 loan program, part of the federal Small Business Administration, is a long-term financing tool for economic development within a community. The 504 Program provides growing businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing for major fixed assets, such as land and buildings. A Certified Development Company is a nonprofit corporation set up to contribute to the economic development of its community. CDCs work with the SBA and private-sector lenders to provide financing to small businesses.
Learn more about the SBA 504 loan program.
USDA Farm Service Agency Direct Loans
Direct farm loans are made by the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) with government funds. The FSA services these loans and provides their direct loan customers with supervision and credit counseling, so they have a better chance for success. Farm ownership, operating, emergency and youth loans are the main types of loans available under the direct program. Direct loan funds are also set aside each year for loans to minority applicants and beginning farmers.
Learn more about USDA's Farm loan programs.
Beginning Farmer/Rancher Down Payment Program
America's next generation of farmers and ranchers are supported through FSA's "Beginning Farmer" direct and guaranteed loan programs. Farm Ownership loans can provide access to land and capital.
Operating loans can assist beginning farmers in become prosperous and competitive by helping to pay normal operating or family living expenses; open doors to new markets and marketing opportunities; assist with diversifying operations; and so much more.
Through the Microloan programs, beginning farmers and ranchers have an important source of financial assistance during the start-up years. While FSA is fully committed to all farmers and ranchers, there is a special focus on the credit needs of farmers and ranchers who are in their first 10 years of operation. Each year, FSA targets a portion of its lending by setting aside a portion of all loan funds for financing beginning farmer and rancher operations. With the single exception of the Direct Farm Ownership Down Payment Loan, the Beginning Farmer classification is not related to a type of loan program; it references a specific, targeted funding source.
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.
For an application, contact your local FSA office.