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.
Starting in 2022, as part of the Western New England Regenerative Agriculture Project, significant funding will go towards supporting livestock producers in the Connecticut River Valley area in implementing soil health practices.
For 2023, the NEFMP will have two separate funding opportunities: Farmland Access, Succession, and Transfer Support Grants; and Western New England Regenerative Livestock Farming Grants.
Q: How do we define “Farmer”?
A: 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 2023?
A: The Farmland Access, Succession, and Transfer Support funding opportunity will fund the following types of projects: Farmland purchase or leasing transaction costs, consultant and attorney fees, surveys, appraisals, agricultural conservation easement fees.
The Western New England Regenerative Livestock Farming funding opportunity will fund projects that improve soil health, such as: Cover crops, pasture seeding, pollinator habitat creation, rotational grazing infrastructure, reducing tillage, composting, and soil amendments, among others.
Contact Kristen Irvin, Program Coordinator, if you have questions about eligible projects: email@example.com.
Q: Who is eligible to apply?
A: For this program, we define “farmer” as an individual, group, or organization who are intentionally raising animals for harvest.
A project may involve one or more of the following: an individual farmer, a farm family, a group of farmers with a cooperative business, or a non-profit entity.
This program recognizes the following as “livestock”: beef or dairy cattle, bison, hogs, poultry, bees, goats, sheep, waterfowl.
Applications from farmers that prioritize community-driven food security efforts are strongly encouraged.
Q: What sorts of projects have been funded in the past?
A: Click here to see our prior awardees.
Q: What types of agricultural projects are NOT eligible for NEFMP funding?
- 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, and we’ll prioritize applications from organizations focused on supporting BIPOC and beginning farmers.
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: Why is the Western New England Regenerative Livestock Farming funding area confined to specific counties?
A: The Connecticut River Valley contains some of the most fertile soils in New England but livestock farmers in this region face unique challenges regarding water quality. Because of this, the NEFMP Western New England Regenerative Livestock Farming grant is limited to farmers in the following counties:
- Coos County
- Grafton County
- Sullivan County
- Cheshire County
- Bennington County
- Caledonia County
- Essex County
- Orange County
- Windham County
- Windsor County
- Fairfield County
- Hartford County
- Litchfield County
- Middlesex County
- New Haven County
- New London County
- Windham County
- Tolland County
- Hampshire County
- Hampden County
- Berkshire County
- Franklin County
- Worcester County
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: Farmers applying to the Farmland Access, Succession, and Transfer Support Grant opportunity may request up to $5,000.
Farmers applying to the Western New England Regenerative Livestock Farming Grant opportunity may request up to $10,000.
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 2 rounds:
- The Round 1 Application will open in October 2022.
- Round 1 will close in November 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 goals.
Estimated time to complete: 30-45 minutes
Round 2: Farmers who are selected for Round 2 will be invited to submit a more detailed application, 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
Awards will be announced in February 2023.
Q: Can I only fill out the application online?
A: We prefer that applicants use our online platform to submit their applications.
For those with limited technology access, 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 firstname.lastname@example.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, conservation districts, 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.
Visit our online Resource Directory to see service providers in New England.
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 November 2022.
Round 2 invitees will be notified by March 2023 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: Our program issues awards as reimbursement.
We cannot select any proposals or issue any payments to awardees for requests that include expenses incurred prior to the date of award.
Grantees will only receive payment after submitting proof of purchase or payment for services. AFT can also pay vendors directly for approved items/services on behalf of the grantee upon receipt of invoice from the vendor. Payment may take up to 90 days in either case.
The awardee will have one year from the date of their award letter to implement their project and then request payment. The awardee will have the option to choose:
- AFT can reimburse the farmer via check or direct deposit.
- AFT can send a check to a vendor/service provider, as long as the vendor or service provider has a physical mailing address.
- A combination of the above.
Notes about award 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.
Bridge Financing Option for Awardees:
While the New England Farmer Microgrants Program is a reimbursement grant program, we recognize farmer awardees may not have funds available up-front. We have partnered with Farm Credit East’s FarmStart program to make low-interest loans available to NEFMP awardees. While we cannot guarantee NEFMP awardees will be eligible for this program, we encourage potential applicants and awardees to read about this special bridge financing opportunity and speak with our FarmStart partners. Contact Chris Laughton for more information: email@example.com or call 860-741-4380.
Q: I received a prior NEFMP grant. Am I eligible to apply for a 2023 NEFMP grant?
A: Unfortunately past NEFMP awardees are not eligible to apply for 2023 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
firstname.lastname@example.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 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.