by CFSA | Last updated Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022 – 

CFSA has compiled the following list of grants, cost-share programs, and loans available to farmers across North and South Carolina.

We encourage you to contact grant and loan providers directly for more information. We will continue to update this page as new information becomes available.

Feel free to scroll or jump to a specific section:


 

General Funding Guides for Farmers

  • SARE: Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches, & Communities: A Guide to Federal Programs for Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry, Entrepreneurship, Conservation, Food Systems, and Community Development
    The 101-page guide covers 62 government programs and has been updated to include program updates from the 2018 Farm Bill. Each program listing provides a description of the program’s available resources, information on how to apply, and in some cases, examples of how the funding has been used. The guide also includes basic information on how to design sound projects, find appropriate programs and write grant applications.
  • South Carolina Department of Agriculture: Agribusiness Center for Research and Entrepreneurship Grants Guide
    This guide provides advice for getting started with grant writing and applying for loans to support your farm business. It also provides information on various funding sources.
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs
    This guide provides an in-depth look at dozens of federal programs and policies most important to sustainable agriculture, and details how they can be accessed by farmers, ranchers, and grassroots organizations nationwide.
  • RAFI-USA: The Farmer’s Guide to Agricultural Credit
    This guide is aimed at helping farmers get ready to ask a lender for the financing needed in new and innovative ventures. When used as part of an overall enterprise development strategy, it can help farmers and lenders achieve mutually beneficial results when they sit down to do business.
  • CFSA: On-Farm Infrastructure Tool Kit
    This tool kit includes information on funding sources.

 

Cost-Share Programs

GAP Certification

  • North Carolina Department of Agriculture GAP Certification Cost-Share Program
    This program helps North Carolina growers with financial support in obtaining a third-party audit to verify they are following effective food safety practices. You must apply BEFORE you have an audit.
  • South Carolina Department of Agriculture GAP Cost-Share Application
    South Carolina growers can get reimbursed for SCDA inspection costs and additional USDA fees up to $750 for the cost of a first-time audit and $300 for each additional annual audit. To participate, applicants must grow specialty crops. Only successful audits resulting in certification are eligible for reimbursement.

 

Water Quality Analysis

  • North Carolina Department of Agriculture Water Quality Analysis Cost-Share Program
    The Water Analysis Cost Share program encourages water testing as part of a pre- and post-harvest food safety program for fruit and vegetable crops. The program will assist in paying for the cost of testing irrigation and/or packing house wash water. The NCDA&CS will reimburse growers up to $1,000 for laboratory analysis to determine the quantitative presence of generic E. coli bacteria in irrigation or wash water by a certified laboratory.
  • South Carolina Department of Agriculture Water Quality Analysis Cost-Share Program
    Through funding from the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant, farmers can receive reimbursements up to $1,000 per year, per farm for analysis of on-farm water inputs for generic E Coli and General Coliform on South Carolina farms.


Organic Certification

Certified organic growers in the Carolinas can be reimbursed for 50% of the cost of organic certification (up to $500) for each certification “scope” (i.e., crops, livestock, and handling) through state departments of agriculture (NCDA&CS and SCDA) or through the Farm Services Agency (FSA) for certification expenses incurred Oct. – Sept.


Cold Storage

  • Partner Community Capital’s Small Farm Infrastructure Program (North Carolina) Partner Community Capital Fund provides financing and support to small– and midscale and limited resource farmers to acquire portable or stationary cold storage units. A loan from PCC is paired with a grant that “buys down” the cost of purchasing cold storage units. The grant will cover 20% of the cost of the unit, up to a maximum of $3,000 per borrower. A grant of $3,000 will be available for units costing more than $15,000.
  • SCDA DIY Cold Storage Cost-Share Program
    Through funding from the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant, South Carolina farmers can get reimbursed up to $750 for installing a Cool-Bot cooler system. Farmers can receive reimbursements for purchasing and installing up to two (2) Cool-Bot cooler systems.


Conservation/Energy

  • NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
    Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements, or what NRCS calls conservation practices. Using these practices can address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, increased soil health and reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved or created wildlife habitat, and mitigation against increasing weather volatility. Here’s the EQIP application.
  • NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
    CSP is a cost-share program that provides financial support to growers who are doing a good job stewarding their land. If you’re familiar with the NRCS’s EQIP, which is designed to fix problems like soil erosion and water quality issues, then think of CSP as a program that instead rewards good stewardship of natural resources and focuses on improving current practices. Primary areas of concern are soil quality & erosion, water quality & conservation, plant & animal health & biodiversity, wildlife habitat, air quality, and energy conservation. If you’re interested in receiving financial support for stewardship of these resources, consider enrolling in the program. If interested, contact your local NRCS office
  • Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)
    The program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Agricultural producers may also apply for new energy-efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing. Open to rural small businesses in eligible rural areas and agricultural producers with at least 50% of their gross income coming from agricultural operations. 25% cost-share grants for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency measures. Applications for grants of $20,000 or less and loan/grant of $20,000 or less combo. 

 

Grants

COVID-19 Relief

  • Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program
    The USDA’s Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program provides grants to farmers, food processors, distributors, and farmers markets to respond to coronavirus, including for measures to protect workers. Funding requests may range from $1,500 to $20,000, and small businesses and non-profit organizations will be the focus of the first round of funding, with medium-sized businesses becoming eligible in the second round. Approximately $650 million is available for grants for COVID-19 response and safety costs incurred between January 27, 2020, and December 31, 2021. Grants will cover the activities associated with workplace safety (including PPE), developing online sales platforms, retrofitting facilities, increasing worker transportation services, providing worker housing or medical service to deal with COVID-19. The application deadline was Nov. 22, 2021. If you applied last year for funding from the PRSG program, you should have received an email and a postcard from USDA during the last two weeks of February. Responding to these communications is the last step to receiving funds under the program, so keep a careful eye on your email and postal deliveries: You don’t want to mistake these messages for spam or junk mail! The deadline to respond was Mar. 11, 2022! To read more about this, check out our COVID-19 Relief Resources page.

 

Farm Diversification/Expansion

  • NC AgVentures Program
    NC AgVentures Program is a Cooperative Extension program that provides grants to North Carolina family farms, and community organizations that work with family farms to develop new and innovative agricultural projects which will increase farm profits. This is a great opportunity for any producer who is thinking of diversifying, improving, or expanding their operation. They will offer another round of grants on Oct. 15th, 2021.
  • WNC Agricultural Options Program
    Applicants are residents of North Carolina who demonstrate the economic viability of farms in Western North Carolina. Support is provided to individual farmers/farms that are diversifying or expanding their operations to increase farm income and encourage the sustainability of the farm businesses.

 

Producer Grants

  • Southern SARE Producer Grants
    These grants are a funding opportunity for farmers in the Southern region to test sustainable agriculture ideas on their farm by conducting research projects. The proposal is open to individual farmer/rancher or farmer/rancher organization, such as a cooperative. The proposed project must address production and marketing issues that promote sustainable agriculture, and addresses a research project; Producer Grants are not designed to pay a farmer to “farm.” See website for full requirements. 

    • Producer Grant project maximums are $15,000 for an individual farmer or rancher, and $20,000 for a farmer organization.

 

Value-Added Producer Grants

  • USDA Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG)
    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. You may receive priority if you are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative, or are proposing a mid-tier value chain. “Value-added” foods and goods are made from raw agricultural products (e.g., vegetables, grains, or dairy) that are minimally processed and then transformed into products like cheese, sauces, and breads. Specially labeled or marketed goods (e.g., “organic” or “locally grown”) can also be considered value-added as the label claim makes their products more appealing (and therefore valuable) to consumers. Value-added products bring in higher prices than raw products alone, helping farmers and ranchers improve their bottom lines and grow their businesses.

 

Energy/Conservation

  • WNC energyCAP AgEnergy Grants
    Open to Western North Carolina farmers only. For farmers in our 30 counties/units of WNC counties, 25-40% in cost-share grants for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, including greenhouse insulation, product cooling, solar wells. The AgEnergy grant can be stacked with USDA-REAP’s 25% cost-share grants on qualifying projects. Project costs must exceed $2,000. Rolling applications with a 2-3 week turnaround time.
  • WNC energyCAP Grants: High Tunnel and Greenhouse Plastic Replacement
    Cost-share funds up to 25% are now available for high tunnel and greenhouse plastic replacement. Qualifications: 1) plastic is more than four years old, 2) plastic has been damaged by a weather event, 3) high tunnel or greenhouse is in production, 4) farm is located in the 30 far Western NC counties. More details and application instructions.

 

On-Farm Research Grants

  • Southern SARE On-Farm Research Grants
    Agricultural professionals who currently and regularly work with farmers and ranchers are eligible to apply for On-Farm Research Grants. These can be extension specialists; university researchers; government agencies, such as NRCS; NGOs; community organizations; or other groups or individuals, such as ag consultants. An applicant may only submit one proposal per grant cycle. Farmers are not eligible.

    • On-Farm Research Grant Calls for Proposals open in September and grants are awarded in February the following calendar year. On-Farm Research Grant project maximums are $20,000 for two-year projects. SSARE recommends two-year projects.
  • Farmers Advocating For Organic (FAFO)
    Funded by voluntary contributions from Organic Valley farmers, FAFO is the largest farmer-funded grant program in the U.S. FAFO awards grants of $5,000-$50,000 to research, education, and advocacy projects that protect and promote the organic industry and the livelihood of organic farmers. For more information about the application criteria and process, refer to this overview packet. The program contact is Stacy Wrobel, [email protected].

 

Livestock Farmers

  • Fund-a-Farmer Grant from Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT)
    Farmers who wish to improve the welfare of their farm animals or build capacity and expand their operations may apply for this grant. Grants range between $2,500 for individual farmers to $5,000 for joint projects that will benefit multiple farms. 

 

Veteran Farmer Resources

  • Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund
    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. Awards range from $1,000 to $5,000, and nearly $3 million has been awarded to veterans since 2011. Must be a member of the Farmer Veteran Coalition to apply. 

 

BIPOC Farmer Resources

  • South Carolina High Tunnel Health Equity Initiative
    A program of South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development (SCACED), the Rural Resource Coalition of SC (RRC), and SC Office of Rural, the High Tunnel Health Equity Initiative provides funding opportunities for socially disadvantaged farmers and producers. One of the objectives is to make available single grant awards in the amount of $10,000 for the establishment and expansion of high tunnels in low-wealth, food deserts, and rural communities. CFSA is a technical assistance provider on this grant.
  • Rodale Institute BIPOC Organic Farmer Micro-Grant program
    This program is specifically targeted to support small-scale BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) farmers, whether organic, transitioning to organic, or an aspiring organic farmer. The goal of this program is to grow BIPOC farmers in the organic movement and help them succeed. The program will fund up to $18,000 per year for projects that meet the programs’ requirements. Individual project budgets should be between $500 and $2,000.
  • Edna Lewis Foundation Scholarships
    These scholarships follow a grant model, in which the recipient is given wide latitude in the use of scholarship funds to achieve a goal to advance their career in their chosen food-related career. Qualified expenses include general living expenses including housing and childcare during stages, apprenticeships, or internships; tuition for school, fees for workshops, or symposia; and travel expenses related to these pursuits. Scholarships may not be used as seed money or operating capital for business or entrepreneurial ventures.
  • Natural Capital Investment Fund Farmers of Color Initiative
    Natural Capital Investment Fund provides financing, advisory services and targeted assistance to farmers of color and minority-owned agri-businesses.
  • Accounting Assistance for Disadvantaged Farmers Program
    Supported by a grant from N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, this program helps farmers of color and limited resource farmers in North Carolina establish good recordkeeping and build financial stability. The program enables disadvantaged farmers to contract with qualified CPAs or tax preparers at a reduced rate.
  • Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education
    Southern SARE’s new leadership program is designed to help fund historically underserved farmers, ranchers and non-governmental organizations working in sustainable agriculture. The program provides up to $3,000 to community leaders in agriculture who need additional resources to support education and training events in their area.
  • South Carolina Department of Agriculture Resources for Minority Farmers Page

 

Agriculture-Related Projects (non-profits or organizations only)

  • Carolina Farm Credit Corporate Mission Fund
    The Fund’s mission is to build strong partnerships and alliances, leveraging the resources within the fund to preserve and promote the farmer, the family, and our rural communities. The Fund has two main objectives: to invest in the future of agriculture and to enhance and impact the quality of life in rural North Carolina. Grant applications will be accepted from January 1 to June 30th. Proposals will be reviewed and grants will be awarded in the fourth quarter. Grants will only be awarded to non-profit groups or organizations and will not be awarded to individuals or private farms.

 

Loans

Steward
Steward is transforming agriculture by equipping human-scale, regenerative farms with the capital they need to grow. As a private commercial lender, Steward provides access to flexible financing and expert support services for agricultural businesses looking to scale their operations, improve the health of their lands, and bolster local food systems. Steward is proud to be a Certified B Corp. Learn more, seek capital, or lend support over at Steward’s website. This PDF gives a nice overview.

 

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)
CDFIs are non-governmental entities, often non-profits, whose primary mission is to provide funding for small business development and affordable housing in underserved, economically distressed, often rural communities. CDFIs receive funding from federal and state agencies, private foundations, financial institutions, and individuals.

CDFI Eligibility, Uses, and Restrictions
Eligible parties are companies and nonprofits in the following sectors:

  • Local and value-added agriculture
  • Renewable energy and energy efficiency
  • Sustainable forest products
  • Recycling
  • Heritage tourism and ecotourism
  • Natural products and medicines
  • Water conservation and water quality
  • Vital community services

Loans can be used to leverage debt from traditional lending institutions. CDFIs often partner with other lenders to provide the unsecured debt needed to complete loan transactions. CDFI funds can be used to purchase equipment, real estate, and technology, and to provide working capital to grow sales through increased inventory, hiring, and marketing.

CDFI Application and Financial Information
Loan amounts typically range from $5,000 to $500,000 and terms depend on the use of the capital. Interest rates are tied to the prime rate and are based on the loan purpose, terms of repayment, the strength of collateral, and the borrower’s credit history.

North Carolina Contact Information

South Carolina Contact Information

 

Direct Farm Ownership and Operating Loan (USDA Farm Service Agency)
The purpose of this loan is to provide family farmers and ranchers with the necessary capital to purchase land and assets or finance annual operating expenses. The USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides the direct farm ownership (DFO) and direct operating loan (DOL) programs to provide financing and assistance to family farms and ranchers to establish farms and ranches that achieve financial success and become self-financing.

Loan Purposes

  • DFO loans may be used to purchase a farm or ranch, make capital improvements, pay closing costs, and pay for soil and water conservation improvements, including sustainable agriculture practices and systems.
  • DOLs may be used to pay the costs of reorganizing a farm or ranch, buy livestock or equipment, annual operating expenses, finance conservation costs, pay closing costs, comply with OSHA requirements, pay tuition for borrower training classes, refinance farm-related operating loans, and family living expenses.

 

Guaranteed Farm Loans (USDA Farm Service Agency)
The purpose of this program is to offer federal guarantees on commercial loans to family farms and ranchers for the purchase of land and assets or finance annual operating expenses. The USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides the guaranteed farm ownership (GFO) and guaranteed operating loan (GFL) programs to assist family farmers to obtain commercial credit to establish or maintain a family farm or ranch.

FSA guarantees against the potential loss of the commercial loan at 90% of the loss of principal and interest. A 95% guarantee is provided in the case of loans to refinance an existing DFO or DOL or for loans made in conjunction with a down payment loan or approved state beginning farmer program loan.

 

Farm Storage Facility Loan (USDA Farm Service Agency)
For most farmers, on-farm storage is essential to keeping food fresh and safe prior to marketing. The Farm Storage Facility Loan, administered by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, provides low-interest loans for producers to build or upgrade permanent facilities to store commodities, including fruit and vegetable cold storage, washing, packing, and handling buildings and equipment.

More Information

 

Farm Credit System
The Farm Credit System was established in 1916 to support rural communities and agriculture with credit and financial services. Each of the nearly 75 independently owned and operated Farm Credit organizations is a cooperative owned by its customers. Farm Credit organizations provide more than $235 billion in loans, leases, and related services.

North Carolina Contact Information

South Carolina Contact Information