Like many industries agriculture is experiencing a transition period. As baby boomers retire or re-tool for the next stage of life there is opportunity for those interested in entering the field of farming. This shift coupled with an increase in market opportunities due to phenomenon such as the localvore movement and waste to energy have opened the door to many individuals to return to or enter fresh the fields of farming and agribusiness.
Whether you represent the next generation of your family’s farm or have successfully parlayed your earnings in another field into farm ownership you should know a number of key programs and resources available to you to optimize your success.
The Farm Viability Program provides authority for the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) to provide grants to eligible entities for the purpose of carrying out farm viability programs. There is a state program in your neck of the woods such as those in the SMG market area such as Vermont and Massachusetts.
The Program offers farmers environmental, technical and business planning assistance to expand, upgrade and modernize their existing operations. Capital for the implementation of improvements recommended in the viability plan is available in exchange for an agricultural covenant on the farm property for a fixed term of five or ten years.
Working with professionals with sales, marketing, planning and distribution experience farmers can devise and execute plans to increase the profitability of their products and services, introduce new products and services and ensure that the support structure is in place (both human and product) to ensure the long-term success of your farm.
Every successful business owner understands their strengths and weaknesses. They secure relationships with those individuals who, as a team build the successful business lead by the owner. FARMING IS NO EXCEPTION.
In addition to the Farm Viability Program there are a number of other programs such as those found on the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture webpage. Programs include:
- Agricultural Energy Grant Program (Ag-Energy)
- Agricultural Environmental Enhancement Program (AEEP)
- Matching Enterprise Grants for Agriculture Program (MEGA)
- APR Improvement Program (AIP)
- Farm Energy Discount Program
- Farm Viability Enhancement Program (FVEP)
- Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program (MEFAP)
Scott Graves is passionate about helping business owners. His firm helps new and experienced farmers navigate grant programs, build markets for products and access waste to energy projects. Tune in to his podcast series ‘No Boundaries Radio’ on the No Boundaries Radio Network. Meet him at the crossroads between strategy and innovation at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @smgcreative.