New England Farmer Microgrant Program

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: What is the NEFMP? 

A: The New England Farmer Microgrants Program was created in 2020 to assist farmers in New England with financial barriers to accessing land, expanding onto new land, increasing land productivity, and farm succession planning. It has been expanded to also fund farmers in adopting regenerative agriculture and soil health practices. It provides grants up to $5,000.

Q: Who is eligible to receive funding through the NEFMP?

A: Eligible applicants are farmers representing a diverse range of farm operations (e.g., urban, rural, vegetable, livestock, dairy, large/medium/small, etc.) and must be located in one of the New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Vermont).

Our definition of Farmer: For this program, we define “farmer” as an individual, group, or organization who are intentionally cultivating annual or perennial crops or animals for harvest.   

Q: What types of projects can be funded in 2022?

A: The NEFMP can fund the costs of equipment or services associated with:

1) Finding or getting onto farmland;

2) Bringing more land into production;

3) Planning for the future of the farm; and/or

4) Adopting regenerative agriculture or soil health practices on livestock operations in our Western New England Regenerative Agriculture Project region.

From cover crop seed to livestock watering systems, to hiring a consultant to help you plan for the future of your farm, NEFMP funding can cover a broad range of things. As part of the Western New England Regenerative Agriculture Project, a significant portion of our funding for the 2022 New England Farmer Microgrants Program will be directed toward projects that improve the resiliency of livestock operations through improved soil health or other regenerative agriculture practices. See page 2 of our 2022 NEFMP Guidelines document, located on our How to Apply webpage for more eligible projects, and don’t hesitate to ask us if you’re still not sure whether your project is eligible.

View our Farmer Resources document for regenerative agriculture soil health resources and service provider listings on the How to Apply page on our website.

While agriculture in New England is broad, our intent is to work with terrestrial, soils-based agricultural production. See page 2 of our Guidelines document located on our How to Apply page for more eligible projects.

Q: What types of farm operations are prioritized for NEFMP funding in 2022?

A: NEFMP will prioritize the following in 2022:

  • Black, Indigenous, and Farmers of Color
  • Livestock (inclusive of meat, dairy, egg & fiber production) farmers adopting regenerative agriculture and soil health practices in our Western New England Regenerative Agriculture Project region.
    • Due to project funding, roughly 80% of grants will fit this category
  • Farmers representing:
      • A diverse geographic range across New England
      • A diverse range of farm operations (e.g., urban, rural, vegetable, livestock, dairy, large/medium/small, etc.)
      • A diverse range of backgrounds, races, and gender identities
Q: Do I need to be a livestock farmer to apply for NEFMP?

A: No. All farmers in New England are eligible to apply. Due to funding requirements, in the 2022 grant round, a significant portion of the funds are dedicated to soil health and regenerative agriculture projects for livestock producers in select Western New England counties. The remainder of the funds will be dedicated towards eligible projects
anywhere in New England that support land access, bringing more farmland
into production, or planning for the future of the farm.

Q: What sorts of projects have been funded in the past? 

A: Click here to see our 2021 awardees. Click here to see our 2020 awardees.

Q: What types of agricultural projects are NOT eligible for NEFMP funding?

A:

  • It is not our intention with this funding opportunity to address aquaculture, forestry, or equine operations.
  • This grant does not support growing or raising products primarily for personal use.
  • Less direct improvements to operations (such as cold storage facilities, washrooms, packhouses, farm stands, and storage sheds, etc.) will not be considered.
Q: I work for a nonprofit organization that has a farm supplying food to our local community. Can we apply?

A: Nonprofit farms are eligible to apply for the NEFMP, and we’ll prioritize applications from organizations focused on supporting BIPOC and beginning farmers. However, it is our intention to prioritize farmers, so applications submitted by organizations with dedicated fundraising staff may not rank as high.

Q: Can I use the NEFMP funds to purchase processing equipment that will help make my operation more efficient?

A: Applicants requesting funding for processing equipment or other items that aren’t directly tied to the land and production will not be considered.

Q: I run a regenerative livestock farm outside of your priority geographic area. Am I eligible to apply?

A: Yes, but any applicants seeking funding for regenerative agriculture or soil health practices for livestock production outside of our priority geographic area will need to demonstrate how their proposed project will fit into the category of Bringing more land into production. If your proposal will not increase production or allow you to bring more land into production, the proposal will not be eligible.

Q: We’re increasing our implementation of soil health practices on our vegetable operation within the NEFMP priority geographic area. Are we eligible to apply?

A: Applications under the Adopting Regenerative Agriculture and Soil Health Practices category are for livestock producers in our priority geographic area only. Non-livestock producers inside this priority geographic area are welcome to apply if their proposed projects fit under one of these 3 categories: Finding or getting onto farmland; Bringing more farmland into production; or Planning for the future of the farm. See our Guidelines document for examples of eligible project ideas under each category.

Q: Is there a match requirement?

A: No, there is no “match” requirement for NEFMP funding. For the purposes of AFT continuing to raise funds for this program, awardees may be asked to share how much other funding (cash or in-kind) they were able to leverage with NEFMP funds.

Q: How much money is awarded?

A: Applicants may request a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $5,000.

Q: Do I need to own the land I’m farming to be eligible for NEFMP funding?

A: No. However, for projects that involve on-the-ground improvements to farmland, control of the land (i.e., ownership, a lease, license, or other written agreement) for a reasonable time period will be required. If tenure is less than 5-years, please be prepared to demonstrate in the application how the tenure is sufficient in relationship to the improvements being made. For further clarity, we encourage you to reach out to program staff.

Q: What is the application process for NEFMP? 

A: The application process will consist of two rounds:

Round 1

    • The Round 1 Application will open at 9:00am on Monday December 6th, 2021.
    • Round 1 will close at 5:00pm Friday, January 7th, 2022.

Round 1 is an open-call process to solicit initial proposals from farmers. Agricultural service providers are encouraged to share this opportunity with farmers, and are also able to submit an application on behalf of farmers with their collaboration. The application will include questions about the farm, farmer(s), and short description of the proposed project and budget for which funding is being requested. The process is designed to gather enough information for program staff to determine whether the proposed project is in alignment with the program’s goals.

Estimated time to complete: 30-45 minutes   

Round 2: Farmers who are selected for Round 2 will be invited to fill out and submit a more detailed application at the end of January, which will require:

1) a letter of support from a service provider or advisor;

2) a detailed budget of your proposed project; and

3) responses to few narrative questions about the proposed project.

Estimated time to complete: 45 minutes-1 hour  

Q: Can I only fill out the application online? 

A: We prefer that applicants use our online platform to submit their applications. We recommend that applicants prepare their application questions using the Word version of the application (available soon) and paste those responses into the online form. For those with limited technology access or comfort, we are able to receive mailed-in applications. We are here to support applicants with any technical challenges and trouble-shooting the submission process. Please connect with our program staff for assistance.

Q: Will the application be available in any language other than English?

A: Program staff have made the application materials available in Spanish and English. We strongly encourage service providers working with other language speakers to assist their farmers in navigating the application process and we welcome applications that are submitted by service provider staff on behalf of the applicant. Service providers may contact us if translation or interpretation is necessary for your interested farmers, but currently AFT only has limited resources available to assist with translation/interpretation. Please note that we recognize our language limitations and are working to improve and expand linguistic access for future rounds of the New England Farmer Microgrants Program. Please contact Kristen Irvin at kirvin@farmland.org or 413-419-0023 for further questions about translation services and the application process.

Q: What is a “Service Provider”?

A: A service provider is any business, agency, organization, or consultant who provides technical assistance and/or financial assistance to farmers. Examples include state Departments of Agriculture, your local Extension agents, a local ag school or university program focused on agriculture, regional or local growers associations, and nonprofit organizations or businesses that host farm business or production training courses.

Q: I am not connected to a service provider. Can I still apply?

A: Yes, you may still submit an application for Round 1 even if you are not yet connected with a service provider. However, if you are invited to proceed to Round 2, you will need to connect with a service provider and ask them for a letter of support to submit with your Round 2 application. If you’re connected to a group or individual and aren’t sure if they qualify as a service provider, feel free to contact us.

Q: What is required in the Letter of Support from a service provider?

A: By requiring this brief letter of support, we hope to encourage New England farmers to tap into the extensive range of technical assistance and support services available in our region. We expect this will result in more successful outcomes for applicants.

A strong letter of support will:  

  • Describe the service provider’s relationship to the farmer. 
  • Describe the service provider’s understanding of the farmer’s goals and the circumstances that are relevant to the grant application. 
  • Briefly describe the service provider’s knowledge and credentials, either formal or informal, and how the services provided are related to the proposed project. 
  • Describe how the service provider feels the proposed project will aid in the farmer’s success. 
  • Include the service provider’s name, title, organization/business affiliation, address, email address, date, and signature.   
  • Keep to one page, please. 
Q: When will the awards be announced?

A: Applicants selected from the Round 1 Application period will be notified by the end of January 2022. If the applicant is invited to proceed to Round 2 and is selected for funding, they will be notified by mid- to late March 2022 of their award status.

Q: When do the funds have to be used by?

A: Awardees will have one year from the date of their award letter to request payment for their project.

Q: Can service providers submit an application on behalf of a farmer?

A: We encourage service providers to assist applicants in submitting their NEFMP application and will gladly accept applications submitted by service provider staff or advisors in collaboration with the applicant.

Q: How are the funds paid?

A: The awardee will have the option to choose:

  1. AFT can reimburse the farmer via check or direct deposit.
  2. AFT can send a check to a vendor/service provider, as long as the vendor or service provider has a physical mailing address.
  3. A combination of the above.

Notes about payments:

Payments can take 60 to 90 days. All payment requests will need documented proof of expenses (for example: receipts, invoices, photographs) and a W9. AFT is not able to directly pay online-only vendors on the Awardee’s behalf.

Q: I received a 2020 or 2021 NEFMP grant. Am I eligible to apply for a 2022 NEFMP grant?

A: Unfortunately past NEFMP awardees are not eligible to apply for 2022 NEFMP grants.

Q: Where can I find more information?

A: Visit our NEFMP page for all current information and the link to the application.

Q: Who can I reach out to for support?

A: Contact Kristen Irvin, American Farmland Trust’s New England Program Coordinator, with any questions about the New England Farmer Microgrants Program, including questions about service provider letters of support, applicant eligibility, funding priorities, or the application and award timelines.

Kristen Irvin, New England Program Coordinator

kirvin@farmland.org  |  413-419-0023  | (Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm)

Q: Are there other grants at AFT that are available?

The Brighter Future Fund is a grant program for farmers outside of New England that will launch in the late Fall of 2021 that will fund a similar suite of project types for farmers across the country. Please visit the Brighter Futures grant page for current details about that program.
The Farmland Information Center has additional resources that can be used to find grants.