Why a Business Plan is Essential to Qualify for Farm Grants

Holding a plant

If you are looking for farm grants to help you start your farm, expand it, or get more capital, a business plan is an essential tool. Without it, potential donors won’t know the scope of your farm. They look at your farm like a business – which it is and any good business has a plan.

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Your business plan can be as simple or as complex as you like. Just make sure that it includes all of the details to show your farm’s startup plans, how you plan to grow it, and what you plan to do to get to that point. It’s the starting point to get any type of financing, whether it’s financing from a bank or a grant from the USDA.

What’s in a Business Plan for a Farm?

Your business plan may not be identical to any other farmer’s, but it should include some or all of the following information:

  • A good summary of your farm and what it’s about, including the mission
  • The background of the farm and the farmers that will own/operate it
  • A description of the crops and livestock you plan to have on the farm
  • A plan regarding the farm’s management
  • A plan regarding how you will market the farm to make it successful
  • A financial plan that roadmaps how you plan to make money farming

These concepts apply to farmers that have a farm already in existence. If you are just starting the process or thinking about starting a farming business, you may have a ‘concept’ that you put together to show potential investors and donors.

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How Will Farm Grants Help You?

Perhaps one of the most important things any donor will need to know is how the farm grants will help you. This starts with your business plan but extends into the financial plans for your farm. Remember, donors will likely have hundreds, if not thousands, of applications to sort through. You want to make your application stand out so that donors have a reason to review it again.

You need a reason for the grant. How will the money help you? Be as honest and open as you can when you answer this question. Your budget proposal should include as many details as possible as the donors will want to know exactly how you will use the funds.

Following the Grant’s Format

Each grant will have specific guidelines you must follow. If you need help, reach out to your local cooperative extension. They can help match you up with grants as well as learn how to apply for them. Each grant will require something different, so you can’t create one proposal and send it to several grant programs. You’ll want to carefully create a plan that meets the needs of each specific grant in order to help you maximize your chances of being awarded the money.

Out of all of the parts of a grant application, though, the business plan is the most important. Donors providing farm grants want to know not only how you will use the money, but how it will help you grow or succeed. They want to choose the recipient that has the greatest need as well as the greatest potential to succeed.

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