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The farm bill contains several different types of programs that are designed to help farmers become more economically successful through business planning and development, technical assistance, market development, and outreach. The following programs are examples of farm bill farmer viability programs that are important to farmers in Maine.

 

Learn more about these programs:

 

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program

Rural Business Development Grant Program

Value-Added Producer Grants

Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives

Community Food Projects Grant Program

Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program

Section 2501 Program

 

 

 

 

 

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) is a program administered by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) that provides competitively awarded grants to academic institutions, state extension services, producer groups, and community organizations to support and train new farmers and ranchers across the country. MFT has received funding through this program to provide land access support and assistance.

 

 

 

 

 

Rural Business Development Grant Program

The Rural Business Development Grant Program provides competitive grants designed to support technical assistance, training and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas. The goal of the program is to support rural development by encouraging small-scale entrepreneurship that will invigorate the economy and provide meaningful employment in rural communities. MFT has received funding through this Program in the past to support its Farming for Wholesale Program.

 

 

 

 

 

Value-Added Producer Grants

The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program provides competitively awarded grants to agricultural producers to create or develop value-added producer-owned businesses. The goals of the program are to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income. Grants can be used to fund such activities as the creation of business and marketing plans and feasibility studies, as well as to provide working capital to operate a value-added business or alliance. Since the 2008 farm bill, the program is required to prioritize projects that increase opportunities for small and medium-sized family farms and ranches, beginning farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, and starting with the 2014 farm bill, veteran farmers. The program is administered by the Rural Business-Cooperative Service of USDA.

 

 

 

 

 

Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives

The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) Program provides competitive grants to projects that help low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables through cash incentives at the point of purchase. The FINI Program was created in the 2014 farm bill and is administered by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). It provides grants for three types of projects: Pilot Projects in the early stages of incentive program development; Multi-year Community Based Projects developing incentive programs at the local or state level; and Multi-year Large-Scale Projects developing multi-county, state, and regional incentive programs. Funding through the FINI Program has allowed Maine Farmland Trust to partner with other organizations to establish the Maine Harvest Bucks Program, which enables SNAP recipients in Maine to buy more locally grown fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets, CSAs, and small retail outlets. In doing so, it also provides Maine farmers with more customers and ensures that more food dollars stay within the local economy.

 

 

 

 

 

Community Food Projects Grant Program

The Community Food Projects Grant Program (CFP), which was originally created in 1996, is administered by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The Program provides competitive award grants to eligible nonprofits, food program service providers, and tribal organizations to support efforts to meet the food needs of low-income individuals and specific state, local, or neighborhood food and agricultural needs. The Program is designed to promote self-sufficiency, food security, and participation in federally assisted nutrition programs. MFT has received funding in the past through CFP to support its farm viability work.

 

 

 

 

 

Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program

The Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) is a competitive grant program that is aimed at increasing domestic consumption of, and access to, locally and regionally produced agricultural products, and to develop new market opportunities for farms and ranches serving local markets. The Program provides Direct Marketing Grants that can be used to assist in the development, improvement, and expansion of domestic direct-to-consumer outlets like farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSAs), roadside stands, agritourism, internet sales, and other forms of direct marketing. There are also Intermediated Marketing Grants to assist in the development, improvement, or expansion of local and regional food business enterprises. MFT has received funding in the past through this Program to support its farm viability work.

 

 

 

 

 

Section 2501 Program

The Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers program (Section 2501 Program) provides grants to organizations that work with minority and veteran farmers and assist them in owning and operating farms and participating in USDA programs. The Section 2501 Program was established in the 1990 farm bill to assist farmers that met the USDA’s definition of “socially disadvantaged,” including African American, American Indian, Asian American, and Latino farmers and ranchers who have historically not participated in other farm bill support programs to the same degree as other farmers. The 2014 farm bill expanded the Program to also serve military veterans entering farming. The Section 2501 Program is administered by the USDA’s Office of Advocacy and Outreach.

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