Government Funding: Cheat Sheet

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Government support programs in agriculture have been around forever. Farmers hear about them all the time — Growing Forward 2 in Canada, and Farm Bill 2014 in the U.S. But, how many growers are actually tapping the support that governments have made available?

Farm support programs are offered both at the federal as well as provincial/state levels in Canada and the U.S. Check out ‘cheat sheet’ and if you have further questions, give me a call.

Canada’s Growing Forward Programs

Growing Forward 2 is a $3-billion program that was set up by the federal government in conjunction with provincial and territorial legislatures. It kicked off in 2013 and will run until 2018, with a goal of helping Canadian producers and processors in the area of innovation, competitiveness, risk management and the development of new markets.

1. Business Risk Management Programs 

•AgriInvest — a savings account to assist growers with small income dips. The grower can invest up to 100% of the allowable net sales and this will be matched by a 1% government contribution with a cap at $15,000 per year. 

•AgriStability — a risk insurance program that helps farmers in situations where the grower’s Program Margin (income minus expenses with adjustments) is less than 70% of their Reference Margin (Program Margin from the last five years, then average the middle three).

•Agri-Insurance — an insurance program that is delivered through the provinces, in cooperation with the federal government. It is aimed at supporting growers in case of yield and/or quality loss. 

•AgriRecovery – this program helps producers who are recovering from a natural disaster that the insurance programs mentioned above don’t cover. 

2. Growing Forward Regional Programs 


•The On-Farm Stewardship program is set up to help farmers improve their production style in ways that will positively influence water quality and sustainable management practices. These improvements can be achieved i Grazing Management, Manure Management, Crop Input Management, Agricultural Waste Management and Innovative Stewardship Solutions. These programs would cover costs of up to 70%, with a maximum payment of up to $50,000.

 •The On-Farm Energy Management program offers assistance to growers who are installing energy-efficient equipment to reduce energy consumption on the farm. The program can help cover up to 50% of the costs to a maximum of $50,000 for the acquisition and installation of energy-saving equipment on the farm.  

•The On-Farm Water Management is another great project available to producers. The purpose of this program is to develop a long-term water management plan to increase water security, while increasing efficiency of water management on the farm. This program will pay for up to one-third or $5,000 in the development of wells, dugouts and so on.

•The Business Management Skills Development Program helps new and established producers increase their business management skills. This
program is especially suited to growers who are exploring new business ideas or would like to explore major changes in their operations. It reimburses growers who have worked with expert business advisors to develop new strategies for their business. This program pays up to 50% to a maximum of $5,000 for expert advice in the form of business plans, business management coaching or succession planning.  


•The Food Safety On-Farm program is financially assisting participating growers to use best management practice to help with increasing food safety, plant and animal health and well-being. For example, the beef traceability program offers 65% of the cost of new projects, up to $5,000. 

•The Environmental Farm Plan is the second most popular program in Manitoba. It is a self-assessment process of a farm operation to find out the agri-environmental assets and risks that exist on the farm. It also promotes the development of strategies on how to minimize predetermines risks. 

•The On-Farm Program assists growers financially in the adoption of new technologies or production practices that will help increase their competitiveness. This program is not only geared towards producers, but also to non-for profit and for profit agribusinesses. Up to $50,000 per project is available in support. 


•Saskatchewan’s Farm Stewardship Program offers up to $50,000 per project, such as increasing the water efficiency of their irrigation equipment. 

•Another popular program is the Farm Business Development and Training program, which allows the producer to either enlist the help of an eligible business advisor, or to participate in an eligible training program. For example, the producer can tap up to $5,000 to hire a consultant to develop a new business strategy. 

•Finally, the Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure program is available to producers as well for communities and irrigation districts to secure their water supplies and to help expand Saskatchewan’s irrigated acres, lessening the impact of drought. 


•Programs for Young and Beginning Farmers

The federal government’s Young and Beginning Farmers website is a great starting place for new farmers keen to learn more about support available for people entering the agricultural industry. 

•AgPal Program and Service Finder (

This site is a great search engine for producers wanting to explore the different support programs. The grower chooses his or her province and area of interest, and the engine will show all applicable support programs offered.

U.S. Support Programs


•Programs Assisting Rural Communities 

The Disaster Assistance Program helps local communities and producers in areas struck by disaster to overcome or at least minimize the negative impact of the disaster. The Grants and Loan Program helps help family-sized farmers obtain financing through the Farm Service Agencies if these businesses cannot access financing through other means. The Insurance Program of the USDA supports producers with special insurance products designed for the agricultural sector.  

•Food and Nutrition  

The National Organic Program is geared towards helping organic operations with their operation.


Growers are financially rewarded for participating in conservation programs that reduce soil erosion, support wildlife habitats, improve the air and water quality, etc.  

•Highlighted Initiatives

Programs offered under the 2014 Farm Bill include: 

–Know your Farmer, Know your Food — very helpful, especially for vegetable and fruit producers. This program is a government initiative to help local farmers connect to local consumers. 

–New Farm Program — a good starting point for young and new farmers wanting to learn more about show the government assists newcomers to the agricultural business.


Ulf Geerds can be reached at 

About the Author
Ulf Geerds

Geerds grew up on a mixed farm in Northern Germany. After coming to Canada, he owned and operated a successful mid size grain farm in central Alberta. He later joined BMO as commercial account manager and then Agri-Trend Inc, as a business coach. He can be reached at

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