2021 is expected to be a much-needed economic boost for the agriculture industry, hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has projected an increase of $11.8 million in crop receipts and $8.6 million in animal product receipts for 2021, (1) also projecting a $5 billion increase in farm exports. (2) The USDA also predicted strong job growth in the agricultural sector over the next few years, with an estimate of 59,400 new job opportunities between 2020 and 2025. (3) California is home to an estimated 500 million workers, (4) and in 2020, 69,600 farms were in operation in California.(5)
While demand is strong, the uncertain economic climate has challenged the livelihoods of California farmers. Having grown up in the Fresno area myself, I’ve always had an appreciation for agriculture. As agriculture is critical to America’s economy, California farms play a pivotal role. Here are some recent developments as well as informational resources about funding and programs available to farms.
Proposed State Agriculture Budget 2021-2022
Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2021-2022 state budget includes funding for a host of agricultural initiatives, including carbon footprint reduction, water conservation, soil pollution reduction, COVID-19 relief, food safety, and commercial cannabis growing, as well as additional funding for the state’s network of fairs. (6)
Funds From The 2021 Stimulus Package
The American Rescue Plan of 2021, passed by the Senate and chiefly designed to provide economic relief from the COVID-19 pandemic, includes an estimated $10.4 billion in programs designed to help the agricultural industry, of which an estimated $4 billion will be appropriated to socially disadvantaged farmers. (7)
Other Programs And Resources
You can find various grants, programs, and other financial and educational resources for your farm business. We have put together a few here. You can also visit Grants.gov and search an extensive database of federal grants.
The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program
The VAPG program is designed to encourage development of new agricultural products and services, and to help producers increase their income. $76 million in funding has been made available for 2021, with maximum grant amounts of $75,000 for planning grants and $250,000 for working capital grants. (8) (The 2021 deadline for California applicants is March 22nd.)
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is available to assist farmers who are certified organic or who want to transition to certified organic, offering financial assistance and other resources. (9)
Sustainable Agriculture Research And Education (SARE)
SARE offers educational and research grants in partnership with various institutions.
Many USDA grants focus on institutions such as universities and nonprofits, often directed at specific research initiatives, but you can find a list of currently available grants with details about eligibility requirements and deadlines here.
Farm Service Agency (FSA) Loans
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We greatly appreciate the important role that local businesses play in building our economy, and we enjoy helping our clients create plans to realize their dreams. If you would like to discuss how we can help you create a financial foundation, reach out to us at 559-440-6999 or by email at email@example.com.
T. Matthew Nichols is founder, CEO, and wealth advisor at Nichols Financial Strategies with more than 20 years of experience in the financial industry. He spends his days serving business owners and families, specializing in helping those in the agriculture industry proactively prepare for the unique challenges they face in a rapidly changing economy. Matt is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®) and holds his FINRA Series 7 and 63 securities registrations with LPL Financial and his California State Life & Health Insurance license. He’s also pursuing his ChFC designation and is dedicated to continuing his education and staying abreast of the latest financial trends and strategies. Matt’s mission is to help his clients transfer wealth from one generation to the next and work toward achieving their goals so they can spend more time on what they love most. Matt was born and raised in the California Central Valley and resides in Fresno with his wife, Christy, and their two daughters, Holly and Jillian. He enjoys golf, traveling, skiing, and spending quality time with his family. To learn more about Matt, connect with him on LinkedIn.