Empowering Veterans to Thrive in Agriculture
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Below are descriptions of programs that can help veterans access capital to start or expand their farm operation. These include state and federal farm programs, business development loans, as well as home loans and grants available to veterans in Iowa.

For educational resources on starting, managing, or expanding your farm business, refer to the FVC IA Education Programs page.

Business Financing

There are state and federal programs to help farmers access capital for land and operating expenses.  Most are available through the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and agricultural lenders such as those in the Farm Credit System. There are also programs that may be utilized for farm business development through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Veterans Affairs (VA).  Finally, crowd source funding, social-investments, and microloans are relatively new avenues for lending and often offer greater flexibility than traditional loans.

Iowa Beginning Farmer Loan Program (BFLP)

The Beginning Farmer Loan Program (BFLP) is administered by the Iowa Agricultural Development Division (IADD) of the Iowa Finance Authority.

Beginning Farmer Loans are financed by private lenders or landowners selling on contract. The IADD issues federal tax exempt bonds and interest from the loans or contract sales are also exempt from state taxes. This allows the lender or seller to offer a lower interest rate to the farmer.

IADD does not set the interest rate, and the terms of the loan, including interest rate, length, prepayment options, service fees, and repayment schedule must be negotiated between the borrower and lender or seller.

The maximum loan amount is $501,100 as of January 1, 2014.

The BFLP’s tax exemption on interest from the loan provides a strong incentive for lenders and seller’s to provide credit to the participating borrower. It also provides leverage for the borrower to receive a lower interest rate. The rate for BFLP loans are typically one to four percentage points below the prevailing market rate.

Using the loan provides an opportunity to establish credit and a relationship with local lenders.

This program is available to Iowa Beginning Farmers. To be a Beginning Farmer for the purposes of this loan the application must:

  • Be an Iowa resident,
  • Be at least 18 years of age at the time of application,
  • Materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm and assume financial risk,
  • Own no more land than 30% of the county median,
  • Have a net worth of less than $691,172, and
  • Have sufficient education and training and access to machinery to operate a production operation.

  1. Obtain a copy of the Beginning Farmer Loan Program Application.
  2. Complete application with lender or seller.
  3. Negotiate loan terms, including interest rate, length of loan, prepayment options, service fees and repayment schedule with lender or seller.
  4. Submit application, financial statement, background letter, other required materials and non-refundable application fee to IADD by the 1st of the month.
  5. A public hearing will be conducted during the board meeting on beginning farmer loan projects, at which time, the IADD Board may approve the bond resolution.
  6. After adoption of the final bond resolution, all parties may close the loans.

Application deadlines for all Agricultural Development Division programs are the first of the month.

There are currently no particular benefits based on veteran status.

The Beginning Farm Loan Program webpage is available through the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA).

You can contact the Iowa Agricultural Development Division of IFA here:

Steve Ferguson
Program Planner
Agricultural Development Division
Iowa Finance Authority
2015 Grand Ave.
Des Moines, Iowa 50312
(515) 725-4919
Email
USDA Farm Service Agency Loan Programs
The FSA has a multitude of loan programs available for diverse operations and producers. Some are geared toward existing conventional operations while others focus on the needs of small, beginning, or socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

Below is an FSA FactSheet that describes the many loan programs FSA offers. The video to the right highlights a few of the programs on this FactSheet.

FSA has also published a more in-depth “Guide to Farm Loan Programs.” For more detailed information, its recommended you contact your local FSA Office, which can be located through the information provided in the “Assistance” tab to the right.

Brian Gossling, Iowa FSA Farm Loan Director describes the many programs available at the 2013 FVC IA Conference.

 

Download (PDF, 26KB)

Flexibility.  FSA has many loan programs that have been developed to help ensure capital is available to a diverse group of producers.

Interest Rate.  Some interest rates are fixed by the FSA while others are determined by private lenders.

Streamlined Processing.  FSA has loan programs, such as Microloans, specifically designed to make the application and approval process less complicated and provide a quicker turnaround time.

Again, FSA has many loan programs for a variety of farmers and ranchers with a diverse array of needs. Eligibility requirements differ from one program to the next.

Eligibility may be based on the type of loan for which you apply. For instance, the Microloan Program was specifically created to address the needs of small farmers that may not have the need for the large capital infusions available in other FSA loans and may also not have the resources or experience to meet the more stringent requirements for larger loans. Therefore, the Microloan Progrm requires less experience and has an expedited application process.

The process for FSA loans will be different depending on whether it is a guaranteed loan through a private lender a direct loan from FSA.

Contact your local USDA Service Center through the “Assistance” tab.

The 2014 Farm Bill included “Veteran Farmers and Ranchers” as a specific class of farmer with special benefits. One such benefit is that USDA Microloans to veterans do not count toward the seven year term limit for other USDA loans.

The term “veteran farmer or rancher” means a farmer or rancher who has served in the Armed Forces and who –

  1. has not operated a farm or ranch; or
  2. has operated a farm or ranch for not more than 10 years.

Service in the Armed Forces includes the:

  • Army,
  • Navy,
  • Marine Corps,
  • Air Force,
  • Coast Guard,
  • Reserves,
  • Army National Guard, and
  • Air National Guard.

FSA has personnel available to answer questions in USDA Service Centers across the state.

Locate your local Service Center here.

Visit the Iowa FSA website.

Contact the FSA Iowa Office:

Iowa State Farm Service Agency
10500 Buena Vista Court
Des Moines, IA 50322-3782

515-254-1540

Email

SBA Patriot Express Veterans Small Business Loans (Discontinued 01/01/2014)
This pilot program is discontinued as of January 1, 2014. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is now assisting veterans through the Express Loans’ Veterans Advantage. Details are provided in the Express Loan drop-down panel below.

This is a guaranteed loan program through the Small Business Administration. Veterans work with private lenders to secure loans and SBA guarantees repayment of most of the loan. In return, lenders are required to provide favorable interest rates and other terms to the borrower.

These loans are available for most small businesses, including farms. There are a few special considerations for agricultural operations that are provided under the “Farm Use” tab to the right.

The maximum loan amount is $500,000. Loans for smaller amounts have less stringent requirements and may include streamlined processing. For instance, Patriot Express loans for less than $25,000 do not have any mandatory collateral requirements.

The SBA’s guarantee reduces the risk for the lender. This provides a large incentive to approve loans. There are specific requirements of participating lenders that provide other substantial benefits to veterans.

Flexibility.  This loan provides borrowers with access to capital ranging from $5,000 to $500,000.

Interest Rate.  The rate may be fixed or variable, but lenders may not charge more than:

  • 2.25% over the prime rate for loans of less than seven years.
  • 2.75% over prime for loans greater than seven years.

Lenders may charge an additional 1% for loans of $50,000 or less and 2% more for loans of $25,000 or less.

Streamlined Processing.  The SBA turnaround time for approval is within 36 hours and lenders may use their own forms and procedures.

Business Eligibility.  All businesses seeking SBA Patriot Express loans must meet the eligibility requirements for any loan from the SBA. These include:

  1. Operating for profit,
  2. Doing business in the United States or its territories,
  3. Reasonable owner equity to invest,
  4. Qualify as a “small” business (see the panel on Farm Use to the right), and
  5. Lack of availability of financing from other resources.

Patriot Express loan businesses must also be 51% or more owned or controlled by a borrower that qualifies as an eligible veteran or service member.

Borrower Eligibility.  Patriot Express loans are available to the following individuals.

  1. Veterans with a discharge that is anything other than dishonorable.
  2. Active Duty Military who are within 24 months of retirement or 12 months of discharge.
  3. Members of the National Guard or Reserve, and
  4. Spouses of the above listed individuals or of a service member or veteran who died of a service-connected disability.

Borrowers apply and receive Patriot Express loans directly from private lenders. The lender will submit the application to the SBA.  The lender uses their own institution’s conventional loan documentation. The decision to make a loan remains with the private lender. This may require some shopping around.

The SBA does have a couple of mandatory requirements that must be met, though these will likely be required from any conventional lender, with or without the Patriot Express loan.

  1. Projected operating cashflow,
  2. A “Statement of Personal History” to demonstrate the willingness and ability to make payments on the loan,
  3. Evidence of management expertise and the commitment necessary, and
  4. A feasible business plan.

These loans are available for most small businesses. This includes farms but with a couple of caveats.

FSA Involvement.  The SBA does recommending contacting the Farm Service Agency prior to applying for any SBA loans. FSA may have more competitive loans and understands how to work with other lenders specifically in relation to financing farm operations. It is also simply beneficial to establish a relationship with your local FSA personnel as they administer a number of farm programs.

Farm as Small Business.  What qualifies as a small business is different depending on the type of business.  For purposes of the Small Business Administration, agricultural enterprises are considered small if average annual receipts are $750,000 or less. The amount is significantly greater for Cattle Feedlots and Chicken Egg Production, $7 million and $14 million respectively.

It is important to be sure to establish the precise business in which you’re involved. For most operations, it is easy to pinpoint farming as the primary business, but those engaged in value-added processing or with substantial agri-tourism operations should pay attention to how their business may be categorized by an outside observer.

Borrowers of Patriot Express loans will primarily work through the private lender administering the loan.

The Small Business Administration provides general guidance and information on their website or in-person.

Visit the SBA Patriot Express Loan web page.

Contact the SBA Iowa Office:

210 Walnut Street, Room 749
Des Moines, IA 50309

515-284-4422

Monday – Friday  8:00 AM to 4:30 PM

SBA Veterans Advantage Express Loan

The SBA’s Express Loan is a guaranteed loan program through the Small Business Administration. Veterans work with private lenders to secure loans and SBA guarantees repayment of most of the loan. In return, lenders are required to provide favorable interest rates and other terms to the borrower.

The Veterans Advantage program eliminates the upfront fee for these Express Loans.

These loans are available for most small businesses, including farms. There are a few special considerations for agricultural operations that are provided under the “Farm Use” tab to the right.

The maximum loan amount under the Express Loan program is $350,000.

The SBA’s guarantee reduces the risk for the lender. This provides a large incentive to approve loans. There are specific requirements of participating lenders that provide other substantial benefits to veterans.

Flexibility.  This loan provides borrowers with up to $350,000.

Interest Rate.  The rate may be fixed or variable, but lenders may not charge more than:

  • 6.5% over the base rate for loans of $50,000 or less; and
  • 4.5% for loans over $50,000.

Streamlined Processing.  The SBA turnaround time for approval is within 36 hours and lenders may use their own forms and procedures.

No Fees.  Eligible veterans and spouses are able to receive up to $350,000 without paying the 3% upfront fee.

Business Eligibility.  All businesses seeking SBA Veterans Advantage Express loans must meet the eligibility requirements for any loan from the SBA. These include:

  1. Operating for profit,
  2. Doing business in the United States or its territories,
  3. Reasonable owner equity to invest,
  4. Qualify as a “small” business (see the panel on Farm Use to the right), and
  5. Lack of availability of financing from other resources.

Businesses applying for Veterans Advantage loans must also be 51% or more owned or controlled by a borrower that qualifies as an eligible veteran or service member.

Borrower Eligibility.  Veterans Advantage Express Loans are available to the following individuals.

  1. Veterans with a discharge that is anything other than dishonorable;
  2. Service-Disabled Veterans;
  3. Active Duty Military service member who is participating in the military Transition Assistance Program (TAP);
  4. Members of the National Guard or Reserve; and
  5. Spouses of the above listed individuals or of a service member or veteran who died of a service-connected disability.

Borrowers apply and receive Express loans directly from private lenders. The lender will submit the application to the SBA.  The lender uses their own institution’s conventional loan documentation. The decision to make a loan remains with the private lender. This may require some shopping around.

The SBA does have a couple of mandatory requirements that must be met, though these will likely be required from any conventional lender, with or without the Patriot Express loan.

  1. Projected operating cashflow,
  2. A “Statement of Personal History” to demonstrate the willingness and ability to make payments on the loan,
  3. Evidence of management expertise and the commitment necessary, and
  4. A feasible business plan.

These loans are available for most small businesses. This includes farms but with a couple of caveats.

FSA Involvement.  The SBA does recommending contacting the Farm Service Agency prior to applying for any SBA loans. FSA may have more competitive loans and understands how to work with other lenders specifically in relation to financing farm operations. It is also simply beneficial to establish a relationship with your local FSA personnel as they administer a number of farm programs.

Farm as Small Business.  What qualifies as a small business is different depending on the type of business.  For purposes of the Small Business Administration, agricultural enterprises are considered small if average annual receipts are $750,000 or less. The amount is significantly greater for Cattle Feedlots and Chicken Egg Production, $7 million and $14 million respectively.

It is important to be sure to establish the precise business in which you’re involved. For most operations, it is easy to pinpoint farming as the primary business, but those engaged in value-added processing or with substantial agri-tourism operations should pay attention to how their business may be categorized by an outside observer.

Borrowers of SBA Express loans will primarily work through the private lender administering the loan.

The Small Business Administration provides general guidance and information on their website or in-person.

Visit the SBA Website.

Contact the SBA Iowa Office:

210 Walnut Street, Room 749
Des Moines, IA 50309

515-284-4422

Monday – Friday  8:00 AM to 4:30 PM

Home Financing

There are a number of programs that provide veterans with beneficial home financing options. This can help any veteran improve their financial situation, but homes for farming veterans are often closely linked to their farm business. A farmer’s home purchase may also include their business’ primary assets–land and farm buildings. This is particularly true for those interested in small farms, niche marketing, and value-added production.

VA Home Loan Guaranty Program

This is a home loan guarantee program through the Department of Veterans Affairs. The loan is written and administered by a private lending institution, but the lender is guaranteed that a certain amount of the loan will be repaid. In return, the lender agrees to provide the veteran with the favorable terms set forth by the VA and listed here under the next tab, Benefits.

These loans are intended for residential home purchases, but it may be possible to use it for a farm purchase that also contains a residence. Learn more about how to use this VA program for your farm purchase under the “Farm Use” tab to the right.

This is probably the most advantageous home loan program available to veterans.  Here is why:

  1. A Down Payment is not necessary.
  2. No Mortgage Insurance is required.
  3. The VA may set the interest rate.
  4. There are limits on what can be charged for closing costs.
  5. Early pay-off penalties are not allowed.
  6. The VA may provide assistance if the borrower has trouble making payments.
  7. It may be used more than once.
  8. It is assumable by other qualified individuals.

To be eligible for a VA Home Loan the borrower must have a Certificate of Eligibility.

Certificates for active duty service members require a discharge other than dishonorable and service ranging from 90 days to 2 years depending on whether service was during wartime or peacetime.

National Guard and Reserve service requires at least six years in the Reserve or National Guard and at least one of the following:

  1. Honorable discharge
  2. Placement on the retired list
  3. Continuing to serve

Spouses of veterans who have died in service, are totally disabled, or are missing in action may also apply for home loan eligibility.

Borrowers must also meet the eligibility requirements established by the lending institution, such as minimum credit scores and debt to income ratios.

The private lender will be responsible for processing the loan and making sure all of the documentation is acquired. For the borrower, the process is very much the same as any other loan. There are a couple of unique aspects to the VA Home Loan process of which borrowers should be aware.

(1) Additional documentation will be needed in order to prove eligibility as a service member or qualifying veteran and to receive a Certificate of Eligibility. Veterans and service members should ensure they have a copy of their DD-214 or the equivalent for National Guard and Reserve members.

(2) There are strict appraisal guidelines, and the loan cannot exceed the appraised value. The lender will arrange for the VA appraisal. This requirement can prolong the closing process and the buyer and seller should be prepared for the process to take up to 45 days. The borrower should also ensure the purchase contract provides a clause that allows them to get out of the contract if the appraised value comes back lower than the contract price.

These loans are for helping veterans make a residential home purchase. They are not intended for the purchase of business properties, but may be used to purchase farmland if there is a residence on the property. There are a few key considerations in relation to this issue:

(1) Non-residential uses of the property, whether for a farm business or any other purpose, must be subordinate to the residential use. This means a large farm with extensive infrastructure and farm buildings is less likely to qualify than a house on a couple acres that may be used for garden farming. This presents obstacles for some farming veterans, but it may be ideal for small niche market farmers.

Note: If claiming that the home purchase is primarily for residential use, you may also want to speak with a tax adviser or attorney on any potential effects this may have on your property tax liability, as farm property in Iowa is taxed based on productivity rather than market value.

(1) The VA appraisal requirements will only consider the value of the land and other buildings in relation to their residential value. The appraiser will have a good deal of discretion in determining whether land, outbuildings, and other installed facilities, such as wells and septic systems, contribute to the desirability and residential aspects of the property.

(2) The VA loans are not available for fixer uppers. The home has to meet “Minimum Property Requirements” established by the VA and be move-in ready. This generally means it must comply with all local building codes, federal regulations, and generally be safe and sanitary.

(3) It may be possible to obtain an exemption or modification of the Minimum Property Requirements if certain conditions are common to a geographic area. This may be something to ask your lender about in relation to the purchase of a house in a rural area.

(4) It is possible to use a VA Home Loan to construct a house. It is more difficult to find a lender that is willing to take on such a loan.

Most lenders are familiar with VA Home Loans and will be able to explain the process. They will also be responsible for asking for the necessary documentation and will arrange the required appraisals for the loan.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can provide additional assistance and have further information on their website.

Visit the VA Website.

You can contact at the Des Moines Regional VA Office at:

210 Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA 50309

Phone: 800-827-1000

Iowa Military Home Ownership Assistance

Administered by the Iowa Finance Authority, this home ownership grant can provide $5000 to eligible service members and veterans.

Participants can receive $5,000 for a down payment and closing costs.

This is grant rather than a loan. This means the $5,000 does not have to be repaid.

Service member eligibility requirements include:

  • Discharge other than dishonorable, and
  • Active duty service for at least 90 days after September 11, 2001, or
  • A federal status injured service person having served in active duty since September 11, 2001, or
  • A surviving spouse of an eligible service person.

It is only available for:

  • Home purchases in Iowa
  • Home purchases that are the borrower’s primary residence
  • Home purchases after March 10, 2005
  • Single family residences, including houses, condos, townhomes, duplexes, and manufactured homes attached to a permanent foundation

The Military Home Ownership grant may only be used once.

The first step is to find a Iowa Finance Authority Participating Lender. Participating lenders will take care of the process for obtaining the grant.

There are a couple of other issues to be aware of:

  • Approval for the grant must be obtained prior to closing.
  • You will need to provide a copy of your DD Form 214.
  • You will likely need four months of leave and earnings statements, three years of tax returns, and a government issued photo ID.

While the program cannot be used to purchase business property, you may be able to use it to purchase a home that also has land for farming.

It is important to note, that the purchase must be used as the buyer’s primary residence. It cannot be for a house that is lived in on a part-time basis and it must be the service member or eligible spouse that resides in the home.

The Iowa Finance Authority has additional information on their website as well as a locator tool for finding a participating lender.

Learn More.Find a Lender.

You can also contact the Iowa Finance Authority at:

Iowa Finance Authority
2015 Grand Ave.
Des Moines, Iowa 50312

Phone: 515-725-4900 or 800-432-7230

Grants

Grants provide funding but do not have to be repayed. They are rarely available for for-profit businesses, but some do exist as support for both veterans and farmers.  Grants are often given with the expectation that some public return be provided, such as sharing research results on new practices or performing environmental services. They can be particularly useful for farmers who are interested in experimenting with new practices, diversifying their operations, or providing educational opportunities to other farmers and ranchers.

SARE Farmer Rancher Grant Program

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) provides grants and education to advance innovations in sustainable agriculture. The SARE Farmer Rancher Grant Program exclusively funds farmers and ranchers striving for agricultural sustainability.

These grants can provide funding for individuals or groups of farmers and ranchers to increase sustainability through on-farm research, demonstration, and education projects.

The projects may be conducted by individual farmers or groups. Each project may last for up to 22 months.

The request for proposals is usually released in early August with funding decisions the following Spring.

SARE grants are administered on a regional basis as illustrated below.

 

North Central

Western

Southern

Northeast

SARE Farmer Rancher grants may be up to:

  • $7,500 for individuals
  • $15,000 for partners
  • $22,500 for groups

The outreach and networking components of a SARE project also assist in development of networking and sharing between farmers as well as relationships with service-providers and consumers.

Producer Eligibilty

Anyone who operates a farm or ranch may apply. Applicants must be up to date on reports of any previous SARE grants. Grants to applicants under 21 must be signed by a parent or guardian.

Partner applicants must be from two separate farming or ranching operations. Group applicants must be from at least three separate farms or ranches.

Project Eligibility

SARE Farmer Rancher grants are intended to provide innovate sustainable agriculture research, demonstration, and education projects. They are not for everyday farming expenses. SARE describes “sustainable agriculture” as farming and ranching that is ecologically sound, profitable, and socially responsible.

Sustainable practices include, but are not limited to:

  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
  • Rotational Grazing (e.g. Management Intensive & Mob Grazing)
  • Soil Erosion Control
  • Soil Quality Improvement
  • Water Quality Improvement
  • Wetlands
  • Cover Crops
  • Nutrient Management
  • Agroforestry
  • Value-added Production
  • Direct Farm Marketing
  • Wildlife Preservation
  • Beneficial Insects
  • Poultry & Small-Scale Livestock
  • Holistic Systems Approaches
  • Organic Agriculture
  • Proactive Weed Control (e.g. Interseeded cover crops and use of crop rotations)

Past SARE grants have included projects that address these sustainable practices as well as health & safety of employees, labor issues, and quality of life issues.

Requests for Proposals are typically released in August and proposals are due in late November. Funding decisions are made the following Spring and the first funding is made available in early Summer.

Proposals must be sent via mail or email. All proposals will contain:

  • Project Proposal: The general information about the problem addressed and the project.
  • Budget:  A list of each expense and an explanation of its use.
  • Reference Letter: A community member explaining why the project is needed and how it will benefit the community.
  • Letter from Financial Instituion:  Required only if the project requires a loan.

SARE grants do not have specific guidelines or requirements relating to military veterans.

As sustainability does include social responsibility and previous SARE grants have included projects focusing on quality of life issues, there may be opportunities for grants specifically addressing veterans issues.

North Central SARE Farmer Rancher Grant Program Website and Contact:

Joan Benjamin 
Farmer Rancher Grant Program Coordinator and Associate Regional Coordinator
NCR-SARE
Lincoln University in Missouri
Lorenzo J. Greene Hall
900 Leslie Blvd, Room 101
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Phone: 573-681-5545
Tollfree: 800-529-1342
E-mail: BenjaminJ@lincolnu.edu

USDA Value-Added Producer Grants

The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program is administered by USDA Rural Development. The purpose is to help farmers and ranchers start or expand value-added processing and marketing. This includes economic planning, such as development of business plans and marketing strategies, as well as working capital activities to implement processing or marketing.

The grant does require a dollar-for-dollar match from farmer recipients, meaning the farmer will pay, or have to find other funding, for half of the costs of the project. These funds must be available at commencement of the project.

This is a competitive grant program that typically takes applications once a year as established by the USDA. The current cycle had an application deadline of February 24, 2014. The next deadline will likely be in early 2015.

Grant recipients can receive half of the costs for developing, beginning, or expanding their value-added enterprise, including up to:

  • $75,000 for planning projects, and
  • $200,000 for working capital projects.

Producer.  These grants are available to four groups as defined by the USDA.

  • Independent Producer:  An individual or entity directly engaged in the production of an agricultural commodity, or that has the right to harvest an agricultural commodity.
  • Agricultural Producer Group:  An organization that represents producers and the majority of the organization’s membership and board is made up of producers.
  • Farmer or Rancher Cooperative:  A cooperatively operated business that is owned and controlled by independent producers.
  • Majority-Controlled Producer-Based Business Venture:  An entity in which more than 50% of the ownership and control is held by independent producers.

Grants will not be given for projects that have previously received funding through the VAPG.

Project.

The term “value-added” refers to an agricultural commodity that:

  1. has undergone a change in its physical state;
  2. was produced, marketed or segregated in a way that enhances its value or expands the customer base; or
  3. is aggregated and marketed as a locally-produced food.

There are two types of project eligible under the VAPG program.

Economic Planning Activities. These projects include conducting feasibility studies and developing business plans for processing and marketing the proposed value-added product.

Working Capital Expenses. These projects include processing costs, marketing and advertising expenses, inventory expenses, and salaries, which are all directly related to the value-added project.

For both types of projects at least fifty-percent of the commodities needed must be supplied by the applicant. They must also demonstrate that the project will expand the customer base and increase revenues.

VAPG funds cannot be used to purchase property or equipment or construct buildings.

  1. Review the Invitation for Application, which is usually released in November or December.
  2. Contact the state Rural Development Office. (Contact information for each state.)
  3. Obtain a Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number, available here.
  4. Register in the System for Awards Management here.
  5. Draft a proposal.
  6. Submit to the state office for review and comments.
  7. Revise the proposal.
  8. Submit the final proposal through grants.gov before the deadline.

Awards are usually announced in the Spring following the deadline.

Congress included “Veteran Farmers” for the first time in the 2014 Farm Bill. Veteran farmers are now eligible for a number of benefits including a mandated priority for the Value-Added Producer Grant program.

The term “veteran farmer or rancher” means a farmer or rancher who has served in the Armed Forces and who –

  1. has not operated a farm or ranch; or
  2. has operated a farm or ranch for not more than 10 years.

Service in the Armed Forces includes the:

  • Army,
  • Navy,
  • Marine Corps,
  • Air Force,
  • Coast Guard,
  • Reserves,
  • Army National Guard, and
  • Air National Guard.

Applicants are encouraged to contact State USDA Rural Development Offices for assistance.

Find your State USDA Rural Development Office.

Visit the VAPG website.

For further information contact:

Grants Division, Cooperative Programs
Rural Business-Cooperative Service
United States Dept. of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue SW
MS-3250, Room 4016-South
Washington DC 20250-3250

or call 202-720-8460

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SILT Farm Listing

The Sustainable Iowa Land Trust is offering land in south central Iowa to a beginning farmer interested in growing food in a sustainable way.
This year they are offering to lease up for to 25 acres fruit and vegetable production, livestock such as poultry, goats, rabbits, sheep or a small number of hogs.

This opportunity exists on a 40-acre parcel 18 acres of which are timber. All SILT farmers are expected to choose one of 5 third-party certified sustainability standards available at silt.org.
Interested applicants should send a business plan and resume and references with proof of at least one year of recent on-farm experience to info@silt.org. For more information about this opportunity, email SILT at the email address above or by emailing info@veteransinagriculture.org