We are excited to announce a new partnership with the Montana Department of Agriculture, the Montana Food & Ag Development Centers, and the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition to offer mini-grants to specialty crop producers across Montana. This project is currently funded through August 2019. However, please note that funds are limited. In addition, although the program is currently offered on a rolling basis, we are considering moving to a deadline-based system.
Grow and diversify the group of farmers participating in the state's specialty crop industry by removing hurdles to farmer entry into the market by helping farmers to:
- Identify the right community resources to support them in business development
- Access funding to start, expand, or enhance their specialty crop venture
Ultimately, we want the purpose of the grant to enhance your business, not just sustain it.
- Beginning farmers (less than 10 years of experience). Other types of applicants may be eligible on a case-by-case basis (e.g. agricultural and food co-ops, schools, nonprofits, etc.).
- Note: more established farmers will be held to higher standards in terms of the innovativeness of the planned project.
- Crops: fruits, vegetables, peas and lentils, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture) - view the list of commonly considered crops for additional information.
- Aquaponics and livestock may be considered as long as they are part of a specialty crop operation and the focus of the project is on the specialty crops and not the fish/livestock.
- Eligible plants must be intensively cultivated and used by people for food, medicinal purposes and/or aesthetic gratification to be considered specialty crops.
- Processed products shall include greater than 50% specialty crops by weight, exclusive of added water.
- No collateral required.
- No on-farm experience required.
- Bankability will not be considered.
Eligible Uses of Funds
- Supplies: items with an acquisition cost less than $5,000
- In limited occassions, special purpose equipment may be eligible (used only for technical activities), i.e. harvesters, vegetable washing machines, processing equipment, etc. when the total price (including acquisition or shipping) is less than $5,000.
Ineligible Uses of Funds
- Purchase of equipment (including tractors), buildings, or land
- General purpose equipment, i.e. office equipment, vehicles, etc. (equipment that can be used for purposes other than specialty crop production)
- Promotion or packaging supplies for a single farm or business entity
- Others as outlined by the Specialty Crop Block Grant program
Example Projects (not to be considered priorities)
- Trees, seeds, other plant stock and supplies (may be purchased without insurance)
- Supplies to build innovative on-farm equipment or infrastructure that directly enhances specialty crop production
- Innovative projects that will bring new information and ideas to Montana's specialty crop producers
How to Apply:
To be eligible, you must participate in an education program with CFAC, the Food & Ag Development Centers, or other partners. This can include:
- A meeting covering available business resources around the state
- Participation in business planning workshops, such as Planning for On-Farm Success, and/or
- Hands-on technical assistance with development of a business, marketing, or financial plan
Once you have completed this requirement, you may fill out our online application by clicking here. Please do not fill out your application before discussing your application via phone with CFAC. The review process by CFAC and the Montana Department of Agriculture will take roughly ten business days, although we will expedite our review process whenever possible.
If your grant request is approved, you will have 30 calendar days to either:
- Submit receipts demonstrating the purchases you have made. Reimbursements will be paid to you by check if the receipts match the intended use of grant funds.
- Submit an invoice that we will pay directly to a vendor.
Know that the payment process can take up to 5 business days to go through. If you cannot spend your grant funds within 30 calendar days, you may request up to two 30-day extensions.
Funds are limited and are awarded on the merits of the application on a first-come, first-served basis. We may move to a deadline-based system in the future.
A key element of this mini-grant program is in the follow-up stage. CFAC will conduct a follow-up conversation with each grantee within a couple of months and will use pictures, designs, videos, and info from the conversation to develop project success stories that will be shared locally and nationally to enhance the specialty crop industry. These success stories will be made available electronically on the CFAC, Farm Link, and MDA websites and in print formats.