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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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grant funding

An Examination of Fundraising Options for Early Stage Sustainable Agriculture Startups

September 19, 2012 |

As entrepreneurs, one of our early challenges is finding funding faster than we’re burning through our savings; it’s a choke point that’s so common that it’s referred to as “the Valley of Death”. This realization often comes at the worst possible time – when you’re equally busy trying to figure out packaging, and which regulations you need to meet, and then you realize that you’re going to need more cash to make it all happen. “I need to find the path that leads to funding fastest,” concluded one sustainable agriculture entrepreneur.

Two obvious paths to funding for young startups are through Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants, especially the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, and via Kickstarter, the crowdfunded donation site. Read More

With Focus on Pasture-Raised Livestock, Two 1st Generation Farmers Forge Sustainable Path in the Ozarks (Part 2)

May 24, 2012 |

The following is Part 2 of the interview (Check out Part 1 here) with Cody Hopkins of Falling Sky Farm. This portion of the interview focuses on the farm’s business model, how Cody and Andrea found the funding to start the farm and advice to budding sustainable farmers just starting out. Read More

With Focus on Pasture-Raised Livestock, Two 1st Generation Farmers Forge Sustainable Path in the Ozarks (Part 1)

May 24, 2012 |

Photo: Falling Sky Farm

From 40 acres to 250. From $5,000 to $189,000 in sales within its first five years, Falling Sky Farm, a grass-based livestock farm located in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas about 100 miles outside of Little Rock, has been working to develop a sustainable farming model that it hopes to leverage and share with other like-minded farmers seeking to create economically viable operations.

Falling Sky Farm is helmed by co-owners Cody Hopkins, age 32 and his wife Andrea Todt, age 27. Both are first generation farmers who come from non-traditional farming backgrounds. Cody, a former high school physics teacher, has a Bachelors of Arts in Physics, and Andrea has a BA in Outdoor Education and Biology. They are largely self-taught.  Read More

New USDA Microloan Proposal Helps Small Farmers Avoid High-Interest Credit Card and Personal Loans

May 23, 2012 |

USDA National Program for Genetic Improvement of Feed Efficiency in Beef CattleNews Release – RICHMOND, Va., May 23, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has made substantial, year-over-year gains in expanding credit opportunities for farmers and ranchers across the United States. The increase in farm and operating loans has helped improve farmer and rancher productivity, launched new start-up operations, and ensured opportunities in agriculture for many more Americans. With expanded access to credit, USDA is helping a new generation of farmers sustain and build upon what is now the most productive period in history for American agriculture. To that end, Vilsack announced the Department is seeking comments on a new microloan program to help small and family operations progress through their start-up years with needed resources, while building capacity, increasing equity, and eventually graduating to commercial credit. Read More

USDA Seeks Peer Reviewers for Farmers Market Promotion Program Proposals

May 16, 2012 |

USDA National Program for Genetic Improvement of Feed Efficiency in Beef CattleNews Release – WASHINGTON, May 16, 2012 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture invites individuals to share their expertise in reviewing project proposals for the 2012 Farmers Market Promotion Program grants.

The Farmers Market Promotion Program is a competitive grant process designed to expand farmer-to-consumer market opportunities in the United States. The grants, which are administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), help provide and expand direct market opportunities for farmers throughout the country. Approximately $10 million is available for marketing operations such as farmers markets, community supported agriculture, roadside stands and agritourism. Read More