By: Wolf Reichard
As an emerging and innovative approach to farming, indoor agriculture, also known as vertical farming or controlled environment agriculture (CEA), is receiving more and more focus. It offers a way to grow crops year-round, reduce water usage, and minimize the need for pesticides and herbicides.
However, starting an indoor agriculture project can be expensive, and many potential entrepreneurs and organizations struggle to find the necessary funding to get their projects off the ground. Fortunately, there are a variety of federal funding opportunities available for indoor agriculture projects, ranging from grants to loans and tax incentives.
Unfortunately, because the field is still emerging, it can be very challenging to find federal funding opportunities which specifically call-out “greenhouses” or “indoor agriculture.” This makes finding funding challenging (particularly grant funding) and means that applications for funding will need to align with other government priorities like transitioning to renewable energy, or improving social justice.
We have prepared an informative and downloadable PDF that will explore the various federal funding options available to clients looking to start or expand indoor agriculture projects who are seeking funding that they can qualify for and apply towards indoor agriculture costs. It will provide an overview of funding agencies, discuss priorities and trends in the funding ecosystem, and provide a few resources to get you started in the right place.
Please note – the information in this blog and on the PDF will focus primarily on funding opportunities in the United States. Due to the dynamic nature of the legislative and grant ecosystems, it is important to note that some details may shift as of the writing of this article in spring 2023, but the trends and funding agencies identified will remain accurate.
Overview of Federal Funding Agencies
The federal funding ecosystem is complex and it can be difficult to know where to start when seeking federal loans or grant funding for indoor agriculture. Below is a list of several federal agencies and the departments/programs within them which have promising funding areas for indoor agriculture.
As mentioned in the grant funding section, very few federal grants specifically call-out indoor agriculture as their priority. This being the case, aligning proposals with grant focus areas is critical. For example, if you meet the qualification for a starting or disadvantaged farmer, you might focus on how a greenhouse will enable you to reach a high level of productivity without purchasing or leasing an unattainably large plot of land. If you were to apply for a grant from the Local Agriculture Marketing Program (LAMP) you might focus on how a greenhouse will allow you to produce even closer to your targeted customers.
- Rural Development (RD)
- Rural Business Development Grants
- Rural Business Investment
- Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)
- Local Agricultural Marketing Program (LAMP)
- Regional Food Systems Partnerships (RFSP)
- Specialty Crop Program
- National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)
- Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)
- Season Extension
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
- Urban, Indoor, and Emerging Agriculture (UIEA)
- Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (UAIP)
- State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI)
- Community Development Block Grant Program (CEDB)
- Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant Program
- Grants for Community Organizations
- Community Navigators Program
- Community Economic Development Grant Program (CED)
- State Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Programs (C-PACE)
- State Revolving Loan Funds for Renewable Energy Financing
Council of Development Financing Agencies (CDFA)
- Food-Systems Finance Resource Center
There are a wide range of federal funding opportunities that align with different groups of people, funding priorities, and trends in government funding. Understanding the federal funding ecosystem from this high level is a critical first step in finding grant funding that you are eligible for, and writing a grant application that focuses on the right federal goals, while positioning indoor agriculture, could be the best way to accomplish those goals.
In addition to the information in our downloadable PDF, we have a large library of federal loans, grants, and other funding resources, but they don’t apply to everyone. Once you’ve had a chance to review the resources above that apply to you, contact us! We can share information on grants and federally supported loans more aligned to your specific context.
Please remember – Ceres can provide directions to explore when looking for grants and provide high-level consulting support in the grant prospecting arena but does not provide any grant writing or in depth grant researching services. Let us know if this is an area where you need support, and we can put you in contact with a grant support partner!
To learn more about how to navigate funding for your greenhouse project, download our comprehensive informational PDF below.