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, farm succession/transfer planning, and adoption of regenerative farming practices.
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: When is the next application cycle?
A: Applications for the 2023-2024 funding cycle will open in the fall of 2023. Two funding opportunities will be open: (1) the Western New England Regenerative Livestock Farming grants and (2) the Farmland Access, Succession, and Transfer Planning Support grants. Each funding opportunity has its own eligibility and farm location criteria.
Q: Does AFT New England have a flood/disaster relief fund?
A: We are unable to offer emergency relief assistance but visit our resource directory for a list of assistance providers and opportunities.
Q: What types of projects can be funded in 2024?
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: Some of the projects we funded under the Western New England Regenerative Livestock Farming grant in 2023 included (but were not limited to) fencing, animal shelter and watering infrastructure for rotational livestock grazing; compost/manure spreaders; pasture establishment; cover crop seed purchase and application; pollinator habitat creation; purchase of no-till seeders; and well digging. For this funding opportunity, we will prioritize projects that enhance soil health and pollinator habitat.
Some projects funded through our Farmland Access, Succession and Transfer Planning Support grant included (but were not limited to) attorney and consultant fees, surveyor fees, and paying closing costs and farmland lease payments.
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.
- Our funding does not support farms that grow or raise products primarily for personal use.
- Less direct improvements to operations (such as cold storage facilities, washrooms, packhouses, farm stands, barns, 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: We will not consider proposals to fund processing equipment.
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 open and close dates will be posted on our NEFMP page.
The application package will require:
1) a letter of support from a service provider or advisor who can speak to the project being proposed;
2) a detailed budget of your proposed project; and
3) responses to few narrative questions about the proposed project.
We prefer to accept applications through our online portal. Applicants with limited computer/Wifi access or limited tech ability are encouraged to work with a service provider, or may contact our program staff for application assistance or to request a paper application: Kristen Irvin / 413-419-0023.
Estimated time to complete: 45 minutes-1 hour
Awards will be announced in early 2024. 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.
Q: Can I only fill out the application online?
A: We prefer that applicants use our online platform to submit their applications. We can also accept submissions via email, if applicants are unable to utilize the online grants management system.
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: 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. The service provider providing an applicant’s Letter of Support should have technical knowledge of the project being proposed and be able to speak to the applicant’s ability to execute the proposed project.
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 will be notified in early 2024.
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: Western New England Regenerative Livestock Farming grant awards: 80% of the funded amount will be paid to the awardee in early 2024 upon notice of award, and the remaining 20% of the awarded amount will be paid upon receipt of the final project report demonstrating successful completion of the awarded project.
A: Farmland Access, Succession and Transfer Support (“FAST”) grants will be issued as reimbursements. FAST 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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-741-4380.
Q: I received a prior NEFMP grant. Am I eligible to apply for a 2023-2024 NEFMP grant?
A: Yes, past awardees are eligible to apply.
Q: Where can I find more information?
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
email@example.com | 413-419-0023 | (Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm)
Q: Are there other grants at AFT that are available?
View AFT’s Grantmaking webpage for all funding opportunities.
See our New England Farmer Resource Directory for additional organizations, financial assistance and service provider listings.
The Farmland Information Center has additional resources that can be used to find grants.