MN Department of Agriculture Grants for Family Farmers

An element of advancing a family farm based system of sustainable agriculture is ensuring that state resources are available to support this type of farming. In fact, because of the multiple benefits sustainable agriculture provides by boosting the local economy, improving water quality, enhancing wildlife habit and more, it should be favored. Working at the Minnesota Legislature, the Land Stewardship Project has attempted to ensure the grant opportunities below include, if not give preference to, family farms and sustainable agriculture.

If you decide to apply to any of these programs, LSP would like to hear about your experience is with the process. Information of questions can be directed to Bobby King at or 612-722-6377.

1. Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program

• Amount: Up to $25,000 for three year projects

• Deadline: Application due Jan. 29, 2014

• Brief description: Grants awarded to individuals or groups for on-farm sustainable agriculture research or demonstration projects in Minnesota. The grant is to fund practices that promote environmental stewardship and conservation of resources as well as improve profitability and quality of life on farms and in rural areas. Results of the research are published in the Greenbook.

• More information and application:

• MDA contact: Jeanne Ciborowski, Grant Program Coordinator, or 651-201-6217

2. Minnesota Value Added Grant Program

• Amount: $30,000 for business planning; $150,000 for equipment purchase or improvement; total of $1.5 million to be given out.

• Deadline March 3, 2014

• Brief description: Value added products can be thought of very broadly as any efforts to market, grow or process agriculture products so that they have more value than traditional farm commodities sold in bulk. The goal of this program is to increase sales of Minnesota agricultural products by diversifying markets, increasing market access and increasing food safety. Proposals that have a meat processing or Farm to School (or other institution) component, or are addressing a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) or similar type of food safety plan receive priority. Small - to medium-sized operations will also receive special consideration. Grants are intended to increase farmers’ processing and aggregating capacity to enter farm-to-institution and other markets; purchase equipment to initiate, upgrade, or modernize value-added businesses; initiate or expand livestock product processing; create feasibility, business, marketing and succession plans for existing and new businesses; and increase on-farm food safety (example: implementing a food safety plan).

There are two grant categories:

1) Business Planning, Feasibility Study, Marketing and Succession Planning— covers 50 percent of the total project cost, up to a maximum grant award of $30,000. Recipients must contribute the remaining 50 percent of the project cost as a cash contribution.

2) Equipment Purchases and Physical Improvements. Eligible for 25 percent of the total project cost, up to a maximum grant award of $150,000. Recipients must contribute 75 pecent of the project cost as a cash contribution. Equipment purchases must address improved efficiency, expansion, modernization or profitability.

• More information and application:

• MDA contact: Emily Murphy, Program Coordinator, or 651-201-6648; David Weinand, Program Coordinator, or 651-201-6646

3. Livestock Investment Grant Program

• Amount: Up to $50,000 (10 percent of the improvement to the livestock operation up to a $500,000 limit)

• Deadline: Next deadline announced in January 2014

• Brief description: The competitive grants cover 10 percent of the cost of a livestock farm improvement and beginning and transitioning livestock farmers will be prioritized.

• More information and application:

• MDA contact: David Weinand, Dairy Diagnostics, Livestock Development Team, or 651-201-6646; Curt Zimmerman, Supervisor, Livestock Development Team, or 651-201-6456

4. Minnesota Organic Transition Cost Share Program

• Amount: Maximum of $750 a year (75 percent of eligible costs) for 3 years

• Deadline: February 14, 2014.

• Brief description: Up to 75 percent of any/all of the following costs: organic certifier’s charges; soil tests; registration fees for up to 2 people to attend approved educational conferences.

• More information and application:

• MDA contact: Meg Moynihan, Principal Administrator, or 651-201-6616