Montana has a lot of great grant/loan opportunities for farmers and ranchers. Grants/Cost Share = free money, sometimes with a cash match. Loans = money you have to pay back, most often with interest. Many of these programs have annual application deadlines and/or money only available on a first-come, first-served basis. Check them out today!
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Check out this rapid fire webinar we did with almost all of the funders below! Quick, 10-minute spots from each group with an overview of their program, eligibility requirements, and examples.
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Federal Agencies (USDA)
Farm Service Agency
Farm Service Agency runs a wide array of programs to support farmers. For financing, their primary programs are loans and microloans that can be used to purchase land, equipment, and more. Find out more by clicking here. To find your local FSA office, click on your county in the map here. Specific Farm Loan program contacts are:
- Billings: 406-657-6135
- Chinook: 406-357-2320
- Choteau: 406-466-5351
- Cut Bank: 406-873-5618
- Dillon: 406-683-3830
- Ekalaka: 406-775-6355
- Glasgow: 406-228-4321
- Glendive: 406-377-5566
- Great Falls: 406-727-7580
- Lewistown: 406-538-3489
- Miles City: 406-232-7905
- Ronan: 406-676-2811
- Sidney: 406-433-2103
Natural Resources Conservation Service
NRCS' likely most popular program, particularly for new and beginning farmers, is the EQIP program which provides cost-sharing on improvements that increase conservation benefits. This can include a broad range of improvements from irrigation to wind breaks to high tunnels. Find out more by clicking here and find your local office by clicking here.
RD runs a range of programs designed to support rural businesses. Most are geared primarily towards off-farm businesses, but they may have something of interest in their Rural Business Enterprise Grants and other programs if you're doing some form of processing, for example. More to farmers, they offer two programs that can provide significant assistance: Value Added Producer Grants which provide assistance to farmers who are developing new products, expanding markets, etc. with a value-added product (click here for more info). The Rural Energy for America Program provides grant assistance for purchasing and constructing renewable energy systems and can be used on-farm (click here for more info). Find your local office here. Specific contacts for the VAPG program are:
- State Office Contacts: Brent Donnelly (MT Program Director) and Kathy Archer (Rural Business Technician), 406-585-2540
Risk Management Agency
RMA provides crop insurance for farmers. In case of major crop loss or loss of value, RMA may be able to reimburse you for those losses if you've purchased crop insurance. While RMA has primarily been geared towards commodity production in the past, a new program, Whole Farm Revenue Protection, offers crop insurance based on a farm's overall expected and historic revenues, making crop insurance worthwhile for a large new group of producers. For more on the program, click here, and for the Montana office contact info, click here. RAFI-USA has also developed some helpful info on the program (click here).
Other Government-Funded Programs
Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education
Western SARE offers a variety of grants to help you research new innovations on your farm and share them with others. Some require the involvement of an ag professional (non-profit, Extension, or other universities/agencies) and others can be managed exclusively by farmers. Find out more here. For questions, contact the main office at Utah State University at (435) 797- 2257.
Montana Department of Agriculture
MDA can help with your farm in a variety of ways, including two grant programs and one loan program. This includes Specialty Crop Block Grants, designed to support specialty crop producers in a range of ways, Growth Through Agriculture, with grants focused on education, marketing, and many other strategies for supporting new and innovative ag products, and the Beginning Farm & Ranch Loan program, which can be used for the purchase of land. Find more on all these programs here. Each program page has contact information for the appropriate person.
Community Development Corporations (CDCs) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)
There are CDCs and CDFIs in cities across Montana, local institutions aimed at revitalizing their communities through affordable housing, business assistance, and a wide array of other resources. In Missoula, Montana CDC specializes in providing business loans to people who do not qualify for bank financing. They offer standard term loans or lines of credit ranging from $1,000 - $1M, with flexible terms and rates typically 1-2% higher than a bank. Below is a list of CDFIs in Montana. There is not currently a list of all of the CDCs in Montana although you can find many of them by clicking here.
|Gateway Community Federal Credit Union||Missoula||www.gatewaycommunityfcu.com|
|Great Falls Development Authority, Inc.||Great Falls||www.greatfallsdevelopment.org|
|Lake County Community Development Corp.||Ronan||www.lakecountycdc.org/|
|McCone County Federal Credit Union||Circle||mcconecu.com|
|Missoula Federal Credit Union||Missoula||www.missoulafcu.org|
|Montana Community Development Corporation||Missoula||www.mtcdc.org|
|Montana Homeownership Network||Great Falls||www.nwmt.org|
|NACDC Financial Services Inc.||Browning||www.nacdcfinancialservices.com|
|Native American Development Corporation||Billings||www.nadc-nabn.org|
|Wolf Point Federal Credit Union||Wolf Point||www.wpfcu.com|
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) and Food and Ag Development Centers (FADCs)
While not providing financing, SBDCs are another great resource in cities across Montana. SBDCs offer free or low-cost one-on-one business advising and can assist entrepreneurs with connecting with local and state resources. For a statewide list of SBDCs, click here. FADCs are development centers that focus specifically on food and ag businesses. Click here for a list of the FADCs and their specialities.
Private and Non-Profit Opportunities
Northwest Farm Credit
While many banks and credit unions will offer loans to farmers and ranchers (Community Bank of Ronan is ranked particularly well for community lending), NWFC has a few programs geared particularly towards beginning farmers, with adjustable rates for pursuing additional education (including our workshops!), microloan opportunities, and more. For more on their beginning and small producer programs, click here. While you can find these loans at any NWFC office, the following are the Montana contacts with the most expertise in Young, Beginning, and Small Farm programs:
Defenders of Wildlife
DoW offers an electric fencing grant program that will match investments in electric fencing up to $500 ($1000 total project cost). For more info and contact info, click here.
Red Ants Pants Foundation
The RAP Foundation offers community grants, sometimes given to businesses, for projects that enhance self-reliance in rural communities. Click here for more info and contact info.