Funding opportunities

Here is some information to help you find funding to support your local food systems work.

If you are interested in learning more about grants and loans for producers, visit this page.


Funding Opportunities in Local Foods2014-10-funding-opportunities-local-foods presents information about 31 federal, state and private grant programs that are available as funding sources for development of local food systems. The summary includes name of the program, general eligibility and deadlines, and
website links for further details. Researched and written by former Local Foods Team graduate assistant Ahna Kruzic and published by the Leopold Center.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service provides this guide to grants and opportunities included in the 2014 farm bill.

Check out the Guide to USDA Funding for Local and Regional Food Systems from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. NSAC also posted this update on federal grant deadlines in June 2016.

Tips for grant-seekers

1. Define the need or problem you are addressing

Collaborate with appropriate partners to plan and develop your idea; funders prefer proposals that show you are working effectively with other organizations and agencies doing similar work. Give yourself plenty of time to build your coalition and develop your proposal; up to a year or even longer may be needed to create a strong project proposal.

2. Determine the best way to solve the problem. 

Solution = Project Idea. What evidence is there to support your solution? Why will it work? This is where your expertise about what will work best in your local community will shine through. Make your case in the grant narrative that your organization or coalition is best-equipped to deliver the solution you are proposing.

3. Find the right source to fund your program.

Rather than trying to fit your project to a specific grant, try to find the appropriate funder to support the work you are doing. is the online archive of available federal grants, which is searchable by category. The Foundation Center maintains a free database of 1700 funder websites (they do charge a fee to search for specific grants). Other resources are available from various nonprofit and government organizations; try a web search using your specific criteria.

4. Be professional as a grant-seeker!

Follow the grant requirements to the letter. Funders will disqualify applicants who do not follow their instructions for word/length requirements, budget forms, letters of recommendation, etc. Write clearly, check spelling and grammar, ask a colleague (or three) to review the proposal before you submit it. Plan to submit your proposal several days (better yet, a few weeks) before the deadline, to give yourself plenty of time to review and avoid last-minute online submission glitches. If your proposal is not funded, be sure to ask for reviewer feedback so you can strengthen your proposal for the next submission. Some funders will even recommend that you submit your idea for their next funding round, after reviewer comments have been addressed.

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If you cannot find what you are looking for, please contact us.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Local Foods Program
Curtiss Hall, Ames, IA 50011; 515-294-3086