Ok, so some of you were inspired by our recent post on all the ways our government helped Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family survive and succeed as homesteaders over 100 years ago. But did you know you could be a homesteader now and receive government supports to help your farm succeed?
If you’re looking for help starting the farm you’ve always dreamed of, our government has your back. Because the up-front costs for starting a farm are steep: you need to buy land, seed, and equipment, hire help to plant and harvest, and so much more. But government grants can help you cover some or all of the costs of your new farm, and you don’t have to pay it back.
Once you have plan for your farm and a business plan, you can decide which sources for funding will help you the most.
The USDA will help you find farm and ranch properties that are for sale.
The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture has a list of grants that might help. The list tells how much money is available and what you have to do to quality.
You can also find grants here, which will include grants to start farms and other small businesses from every agency.
The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program offers grants to fund sustainable agriculture – and frequently has grants open to encourage women to start or innovate on sustainable farms. So if you have an idea you’d like to test, SARE may want to fund it.
The USDA Rural Information Center has links to other state and federal programs you can look to. Nearly every state has an agricultural agency and a beginning farmer loan program that can help you get started.
And, if you’re looking for loans as well, the USDA Farm Service Agency has a large number of loans at special rates, including special loans for beginning and for minority and female farmers and ranchers.
And if there’s a disaster, the USDA Risk Management Agency can help you prepare and recover, so don’t forget to make them part of your plan.
There’s a lot more, so don’t forget to check out the National Agricultural Library’s list of small farm funding resources.
Looking for free land? So, at this point, the federal government isn’t offering any land for homesteading, but several states and towns are offering free, or nearly free, land to those who qualify and want to live there. (There used to be far more cities and towns trying this, but the programs come and go as they succeed…) But it can take guts, and hard work, to make it happen. Each program has its own rules, so research before you go!
- In Alaska, you can buy land from the Department of Natural Resources through a sealed-bid auction, usually for much less than market value, or buy land from the Remote Recreational Cabin Sites to use the land recreationally.
- Small towns in Iowa, including Marne and Manilla have made lots available for private or commercial use – just submit your house’s proposed floor plan.
- Several towns in Kansas and Nebraska are offering free land to those willing to work in communities that are suffering economically, which has recently included the cities of Lincoln, Marquette, Osborne, and Plainville.
- Michigan communities are now offering free land in exchange for services to the community. The city of Muskegon offers free industrial property for those who will help create jobs in the area.
So, are you going to become a modern homesteader or start your own farm? It’s nice to know that government still has your back if you do.