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Mini Grants Support the Future of Agriculture

Rather than having a guest for this week’s podcast, Rachel Sattazahn, Knowledge Center Director at AgChoice Farm Credit and Host of Field Note’s, shares more about a new grant program. AgChoice is dedicated to supporting the future of agriculture. Last fall, AgChoice introduced their first ever Jumpstart Grant program where they awarded grants to startup farmers. Here in 2022, they will be continuing the momentum built with that program, with another program specifically designed for youths. This program is called the Jumpstart Mini Grant program. Through this opportunity, AgChoice will award five $2,500 grants to youths ages 16 to 21, who have started, or are interested in starting, a farming or ag related business. A more in-depth description of the grant program follows. To listen to the full podcast, click here: 

 


As with all grant programs, applicants should meet the stated grant criteria. For our Jumpstart Mini Grant, three general criteria must be met. For one, applicants must be living in AgChoice's service territory, which is 52 counties in Pennsylvania and four counties in the Panhandle of West Virginia. If you have questions about whether you live in one of those covered counties, check out our Mini Grant's webpage at agchoice.com/minigrants.

Second, grant applicants must be ages 16 to 21. Age is determined as of January 1st, 2022. For any applicants under age 18, we will require a parent signature on the grant application. So be sure your parent is aware, and supportive, of you applying for the grant. If you end up being one of our grant recipients, a parent signature would also be required on our grant agreement paperwork.

The third criteria is that this grant is specifically for youth who have started a farm or agribusiness in the last two years, or they plan to start one in the next two years. Now, we know that many youth may not have actually formed a separate business entity for whatever they are be doing. That is perfectly fine. We understand that the small business might be a side enterprise within their family's existing farm or operation. However, the youth should provide the main management and oversight of the enterprise, as it is not the intent of the Mini Grant to fund or purchase animals for an FFA or 4-H project. The grant is intended to support a farm business that will continue beyond a single project year.

Grant funds must be used for agricultural purposes to support the farm business within two years of receiving the grant. Examples of how those funds could be used include paying for operating expenses, equipment, livestock, or other startup costs.

Now, let's talk about what's involved in applying for a Jumpstart Mini Grant. There are three main components to an application. One component is the application form itself. The second part is a one-page business plan. Lastly the applicant must provide a photo of themselves.

The application form is where the applicant will provide some general information about themselves including, their contact information, and answering a few general questions. For the one-page business plan, we have provided a template on our Mini Grant webpage at agchoice.com/minigrant that applicants are welcome to use. They could also provide another format of a business plan that explains the business and its future direction. Finally, we're asking all of our applicants to upload a photo of themselves with their farm or their ag enterprise, which could then be used for marketing purposes if they are selected. It's also important to note that all applications are due by 11:59 PM on April 1st to be eligible for consideration.

I also want to share about an added benefit that we're offering to Jumpstart Mini Grant applicants. We're providing all of the applicants with free access to the AgBiz Basics educational series. This is an online module series consisting of four modules that cover the basics about starting an ag business. This has a $200 value. Once an individual submits their application, I'll share a coupon code with them to access the program for free. Again, this is not part of the application at all. It's simply an additional way that we want to help ag entrepreneurs get started.

In conclusion, if you, or a youth you know, ages 16 to 21, has an ag business, or wants to start one, and meets all of the other criteria, encourage them apply for the AgChoice Jumpstart Mini Grant. The future success of Pennsylvania agriculture depends on the support of today's young ag entrepreneurs. All of the details, including the application form, FAQ document, one page business plan template, and more, are located at agchoice.com/minigrants.


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