New Federal Funding Guide Released for Sustainable Agriculture Practitioners

building_sust_farmsUpdated for the 2014 Farm Bill

Producers, landowners, NGO’s, and researchers who are seeking resources to help them reach their sustainable agriculture goals need look no further than the recently updated Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches, and Communities Guide. The 86-page guide covers 63 programs, which coincide with changes reflected in the 2014 Farm Bill. It provides a one-stop reference for governmental resources, information, and financial assistance on topics ranging from investment opportunities in agricultural entrepreneurial ventures to technical assistance and grant funding for renewable energy projects, and everything in between. Each program entry provides a description, eligibility requirements, application process information and resources, in addition to websites, agency contact information, and project examples if available.

Andrew Bernhardt, a University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension staff member and Wisconsin SARE Coordinator observes: “This guide is the single most valuable resource at the workshops we do around Wisconsin to help people access programs that can offer resources for their sustainable agriculture-related farms and businesses.  It’s efficiently put together, which makes it very easy to use, and always gets terrific reviews from participants.”

“The Guide”, as it is colloquially known, pertaining to the 2014 Farm Bill is the culmination of a partnership between the National Center for Appropriate Technology, The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, with support from the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, The McKnight Foundation, Farm Aid, and the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation.

Julia Sampson, Executive Assistant at Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group in Arkansas, states “The clear and comprehensive layout of the Guide provides the user with simple explanations of the myriad of federal program available to farmers, ranchers, and community food groups. The Guide serves as an excellent foundation for those interested in learning more about federal programs.

Over the years, and throughout its many iterations, the guide has amassed quite a bit of fanfare and praise from users and practitioners across the country.

Lorna Donaldson, a Tennessee farmer and national sustainable agriculture enterprise consultant says, “I use these wonderful Guides with start-up nonprofits all over the country.  The Guides are especially valuable because most groups I work with aren’t familiar with federal programs.  It’s great having something that’s so concise and also helps people understand how to go and look for additional resources.”

“Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities provided me with concise, comprehensive, well-organized and user-friendly information on federal grant programs,” says Midwestern regional food systems entrepreneur Mary Holland, who attended the first of this year’s statewide grant-writing workshops in Wisconsin.

To download a free copy of Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches, and Communities as well as order paper copies please go to:

Interested parties can also call The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) at 1-800-346-9140 for free hard copies of the guide.

For those who find programs within the guide that they are interested in exploring a bit further, please feel free to contact Michael Fields Agricultural Institute’s Grants Advisor Deirdre Birmingham for additional assistance on grant applications and grant planning/writing.

Deirdre Birmingham
MFAI Grants Advisor

Grants Advising Website:


George Reistad
Assistant Policy Director
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
(414) 429-3393