DOAG: Farm Viability Grant Program for Municipalities & 501 (c) 3 Agricultural Non Profits

Farm Viability Grant
The Farm Viability Grant (FVG) (C.G.S. Sec. 22-26j) is a competitive matching grant program open to municipalities, regional planning organizations, association of municipalities, and 501 c(3) agricultural non-profits. The maximum grant award is $49,999.

Funding for the Farm Viability Grant is provided through the State of Connecticut Agricultural Viability Grant Program, established in 2005 through Public Act 228-05, An Act Concerning Farmland Preservation, Land Protection, Affordable Housing, and Historic Preservation.

The next round of funding will be available in November 2016. 
Information for the 2015 program can be found below.
Farm Viability Grant Frequently Asked Questions
When will applications be accepted again?
Applications will be accepted again in November 2016.  The exact date has yet to be determined.
Who is eligible for the Farm Viability Grant (FVG)
Non-profit organizations with an agricultural mission, municipalities, groups of m municipalities, rregional councils of governments organized under the provisions of sections 4-124i to 4-124p, inclusive, and groups of municipalities that have established a regional inter-local agreement pursuant to sections 7-339a to 7-339l, inclusive are all eligible so long as they're active for three years or more.  
What is maximum amount an applicant could be awarded?
Up to $49,999.
Is there an applicant match involved? 
Yes. A 40% match must be provided.  The match can be through cash or in-kind services.
If I apply by the deadline does it mean I'll be funded?
No.  This is a very competitive grant program.  Applications are evaluated by a team of reviewers and is primarily based on the business/project plan.  More information on the evaluation criteria can be found in the application guidelines.     
How is the grant money paid to someone who's been awarded? 
Grantees may request an advance payment of up to 50% of the total award.  The balance of the award will be provided after the project is successfully completed, a final financial report outlining all expenses associated with the project have been received and approved, a final project report has been received and approved, and site inspection by agency staff is conducted (if applicable.)  For any building a certificate of occupancy must be obtained as well. 
What projects can the FVG grant money be used for?
Projects which implement local land use or agricultural regulations, farmland protection strategies, provide educational workshops for farmers, fund advertising for local or regional agriculture, establish local farmers' markets, among others.  More specific priority areas are outlined in the application guidelines.
Can I purchase equipment with the grant?
While it can vary, general purpose equipment - tractors, trucks, boats, etc. - are not allowable purchases.  However, each application and project is unique and may be considered.  Equipment is an allowable match expense. 
Can I pay employees salaries with the grant?
Generally, grant funds cannot go toward the salaries of those already employed by the applicant to execute the project.  Consultant expenses are allowable expenses.  Salaries are an allowable match expense. 
Can I apply for grant funds for a project I've already done?
No, you cannot have started any aspect of the project for which you're applying.
How long do I have to complete the project? 
You will have one year from the time the contract is signed by the Attorney Generals office.

How do I apply for this grant? 
1.  Review the grant application guidelines
2.  Fill out the application cover page and budget forms in detail per the guidelines
3.  Develop your business/project plan per the information provided in the guidelines
4.  Submit the completed forms and business/project plan by email
Can I submit my application by mailing it to the Department of Agriculture?
No, applications are only accepted by email. 
Can I view the application of a successful/awarded project?
No, we cannot share or distribute applications from projects that were awarded.  Applications, which are primarily based on a business/project plan, are considered proprietary information and must remain confidential. 
Can someone from the Department of Agriculture help me write my business/project plan and complete the application?
No, agency staff cannot be involved in the development of a business/project plan.  Information is available above to help develop a successful application.  The Connecticut Small Business Development Center, UConn Cooperative Extension, and Farm Credit East have varying resources to help you submit an application.   
What's the timeframe for the grant application and decision period?

It'll be approximately six weeks from the application deadline to when you're notified of the award outcome.  The number of applications received affects this timeline significantly.  Once notified of being awarded, it will be approx. 3-4 weeks before you receive your contract for signature.  Once you send your signed contract back, it's another 4 weeks before the contract signing is complete and you can officially begin your project. This timeline can vary. 

Can I start the project as soon as I know that I've been awarded?
No, you may not start the project until signatures of the grantee, Commissioner of Agriculture, and the Attorney Generals office have signed the contract. 
If I've already received this grant in the past can I apply again?
Yes.  However, past performance will be taken into consideration. 
2015 Program Information