Montana’s farmers and ranchers now have access to three new tools to finance their operations. This week, the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition (CFAC) in Missoula launched a statewide specialty crop mini-grant, a regional 0% interest loan, and a free technical assistance program for those considering Farm Service Agency financing in Western and Southwest Montana.
The Specialty Crop Mini-Grant program offers grants from $1,000 to $5,000 to specialty crop producers. CFAC Program Director Annie Heuscher says the goal of the grant program is to support beginning specialty crop producers and others to expand specialty crops across Montana. The grant application can be found online at http://missoulacfac.org/mini-grants.html and potential applicants are encouraged to contact Heuscher in advance of applying.
Also on offer are 0% interest, zero fee, crowdfunded loans through the international microlending platform, Kiva. CFAC has recently registered a trustee on the site and will be able to endorse local borrowers, increasing their likelihood of being funded on the site. Loans can be up to $10,000. More information about applying for endorsement from CFAC can be found at http://missoulacfac.org/kiva-zip.html.
Finally, CFAC was recently awarded a cooperative agreement with the Farm Service Agency to provide hands-on, one-on-one technical assistance to potential FSA borrowers in Western and Southwest Montana. CFAC provides introductory meetings for farmers to learn about the broad array of FSA programs, longer-term support with developing business, marketing, and financial plans, and assistance filling out and submitting FSA applications. More information about this opportunity can be found at http://missoulacfac.org/fsa-technical-assistance.html.
For more information on any of these programs, interested farmers and ranchers can also email Annie Heuscher at firstname.lastname@example.org.