Applications are now open for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) Beginning Farmer Pandemic Relief Microgrants.
This new fund aims to mitigate the pandemic’s economic impact on beginning farmers with direct financial assistance.
The microgrants, administered through the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), are intended to offset the costs of input expenses (including compost and cover crop seed), fund infrastructure projects (such as wash-area improvements or tractor implements), or cover the costs of organic certification for beginning farmers. Awards range from $500 to $5,000.
“In many ways beginning farmers were especially impacted by the pandemic,” said Robin Hackett, OEFFA’s Begin Farming Program Coordinator. “Running a new farm business is challenging under the best of circumstances, but the unpredictability and supply chain disruptions of the past two years have made it especially difficult for early career farmers to get their feet under them.”
Hackett said of his conversations with beginning farmers across the state, “I have yet to hear from any who haven’t been adversely impacted by the pandemic in one way or another.”
To be eligible to apply, farmers must be:
- Located in Ohio,
- In operation for between one and 10 seasons, and
- Engaged in sustainable agricultural practices.
This funding is made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program. Applications open Monday, January 17, 2022 and close Monday, March 7, 2022. Award recipients will be announced at the end of March.
According to the USDA, Ohio is home to more than 33,000 beginning farmers, the sixth-largest number of any state in the country. OEFFA’s Begin Farming Program provides these early career farmers—as well as those aspiring to become farmers—with the support they need to start and grow their own farm businesses. OEFFA’s Begin Farming programming includes internship and apprenticeship opportunities, one-on-one technical support and land-access counseling, a farm-link website for landowners and land-seekers, and a suite of workshops and courses designed to help farmers build viable farm businesses.
For more information, or to apply, visit beginfarming.oeffa.org/beginning-farmer-relief.