State and Federal grants are not for those looking to begin, save, maintain, or expand a business. These grants have strict eligibility, application, selection and reporting requirements. They won't cover start-up or operational costs, nor can they be used to pay off debt. For almost all entrepreneurs, funding will need to come from personal savings, friends and family, or bank loans. For others, crowdfunding may be the way to go.
Generally, you must be an IRS-designated-non-profit 501(c)3, cooperative, commission, university, or government unit to qualify for a federal grant. People and/or private businesses rarely qualify for these grants. If you’re advised to form a non-profit just for the sake of getting government grants, you’re being misled! It’s not that simple.
But there are other options. Here are some resources that could be helpful in your search. None of the grants/loans shown below are administered through the Georgia Department of Agriculture, and we can provide no information on these resources.
The Federal government has compiled this info: https://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/grants-and-loans-farmers - A link to sources that offer financial support for small farms and farm-related businesses. Funding is available from a variety of federal, state and local agencies and from non-governmental organizations.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition keeps a list of federal farm and food-related programs and grants: http://sustainableagriculture.net/publications/grassrootsguide/farm-bill-programs-and-grants/
USDA-SARE agriculture grants are occasionally available on a competitive basis: http://www.southernsare.org/Grants/Types-of-Grants
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has financial or technical assistance for agriculture conservation programs: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/ga/home/?cid=nrcs144p2_021771
If you’re looking to start a farm, here’s some helpful info: https://newfarmers.usda.gov/
Do you own a farm? You may want to speak with someone from your local county Agriculture Extension office, or your local USDA Rural Development office.
Are you a U.S. Veteran? If so, you may want to look into the 2501 program, created through the 1990 Farm Bill to help socially-disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, and foresters. The 2014 Farm Bill expanded the program's reach to veterans. http://www.outreach.usda.gov/grants/
The Small Business Administration offers low interest loans for those who qualify.
The USDA also offers a loan program to help farmers and ranchers get the financing they need to start, expand or maintain a family farm. https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/farm-loan-programs/index
Loans are also offered by the Georgia Development Authority.
Here’s a helpful article from the USDA-FSA which clears up some of the most common misconceptions about Federal grants: http://askfsa.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1179
And finally, from the Federal government's own Grants.gov website:
Are you an individual or family looking for financial assistance? Visit the Benefits.gov site and find benefits, browse State programs, or learn about Federal programs. We have all seen them; late night infomercials, websites, and reference guides, advertising "millions in free money." Don't believe the hype! Although there are many funding opportunities on Grants.gov, few of them are available to individuals and none of them are available for personal financial assistance. To find an alphabetical listing of federal personal assistance, visit the USA.gov website.