Grants available from the USDA for specialty cropsWritten by Christy Hemken
These grants are aimed at small-scale farmers looking to extend their growing season and conserve water while increasing productivity among their crops. Grants will also be awarded for native seed production.
“This is specifically a small project grant, with a maximum amount of $2,000 and up to a 50 percent match on a project,” says WDA Deputy Director Jason Fearneyhough. “The projects we’re looking for are things that will extend the growing seasons for the small farmers’ market-type crops.”
Eligible expenditures are limited to the materials necessary to complete projects, such as high tunnels and drip irrigation systems, as well as seedstock for the production or enhancement of native seed plants.
Fearneyhough says that, to date, there have only been between five and 10 producers taking advantage of the grant. “We’d like to get that number up, because we have some money to spend,” he says.
A two-year grant, the funding may be available again next spring if it’s not all allocated this year. This year’s grant application deadline is April 15.
“The ideal person to apply for this grant is someone looking to enhance their vegetable crop, and someone’s who’s looking at putting their product into a farmers market,” notes Fearneyhough.
“Anybody who’s in farming in Wyoming is eligible for this grant,” explains Fearneyhough of the grant’s requirement that a producer has to make, or expect to make, at least $1,000 from agriculture in the year.
The Specialty Crop Small Grant Program is one of three aspects of the larger USDA grant that also includes marketing education and the lawn-care sector. “We’ve been doing a lot with farmers’ markets with this grant, as well as working with the grape growers in Wyoming through their association,” he says.