What are Government Farm Grants?

Barbara R. Cochran

Government farm grants are money provided for individuals who want to enhance or save their existing farm, or for people who want to start a farm. It is important for governments to ensure that farms will be a viable and profitable enterprise for those who want to start farming, or who want to keep on farming. Government farm grants help ensure that all people are able to access the food they want and need.

Hop farm.
Hop farm.

Applicants for government farm grants must prove that they have financial or other circumstances that prevent them from getting the full benefit of their land. For example, a farmer may find that his or her farm will be able to yield more crops if he or she is able to get a grant to purchase more seed. Or a farmer may find that he or she needs to repair or build more outbuildings to support the farm’s activity. In general, the more grant money one is seeking, the more involved the application process will be. In those cases, the farmer may have to actually submit a grant proposal.

Produce from a farm.
Produce from a farm.

The need to move away from energy derived from fossil fuels has lead many government farm grants to be awarded to help farmers increase their corn production. The ethanol that is extracted from corn has garnered much attention as a possible alternative to conventional gasoline fuel for cars. While fossil fuels may eventually run out, corn can always be produced, as long as there are a sufficient number of farmers who produce the crop. Government farm grants are a way of supporting the farmers who may be able to make this initiative possible.

A farmer tills his field.
A farmer tills his field.

In the United States, it is the Department of Agriculture that makes decisions about which applicants will receive a farm grant or grants. Trillions in government farm grants are handed out all over the world. The farm grant programs in the European Union are sometimes criticized for handing out grant money that many think should go directly to farmers to businesses or agencies that are not directly related to crop or livestock production. This could leave small farmers at a disadvantage in terms of the amount of grant money they might be awarded. It is even possible, under such circumstances, that they may not be awarded any grant at all.

Farm grants may help to pay for the care of livestock.
Farm grants may help to pay for the care of livestock.

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Discussion Comments


@Fa5t3r - There are some government farm grants that are ongoing and I don't think it's a bad thing in some cases. Community farms, for example, that provide learning opportunities for young people and fresh produce to the impoverished, often operate through government grants.

Experimental farms that are set up to see the long term impact of different crops or techniques are also often completely funded through grants.


@pastanaga - Often low income grants are given to help people like farmers over a rough point. If the grant wasn't given, they would go under and a community might lose a valuable asset that provides jobs and money.

Grants shouldn't be used to support a farm in perpetuity, but it takes a long time to establish a farm and if it's possible to keep the original owners on it with a grant, then it seems like the best thing to do.

Also, they are often used to change tactics, when new infrastructure is needed or when a farmer is just starting out. If grants weren't there innovation would be much more risky and people would be less likely to undertake it.


Viable should be the operative word here. Government grants for farm land can end up doing more harm than good if they are given to the wrong people, as they can sustain farms that would otherwise go under because they aren't run properly.

If a farm can't maintain itself on its own profits then it should be turned into something else. Propping it up only weakens the economy and makes the inevitable failure worse in the long run.

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