Many governments use programs like the US Department of Agriculture’s Community Supported Agriculture Initiative to do a poor job of educating the public about how to apply for grants. The public tends to view this type of government program as a one-off assistance that will not affect them in the future. Government subsidies allow farmers to make bigger profits by growing more crops, so they may be more willing to apply for more grants in the future. The federal government provides more subsidies than any other government to farmers because farmers receive so many dollars for each one they harvest.
Another advantage to grants is that many grant recipients use these grants as incentive to grow more food, which is important to farmers; it boosts their sales and profits. That is exactly what the USDA wants to see: farmers planting more crops so that they get more dollars in their pockets in the future, as well as other benefits.
But with a grant, the farmer doesn’t have to pay for the land, land use, and marketing costs associated with producing a crop – in case he or she gets a grant. The farmers are the ones getting the subsidies, but they do own the land and marketing costs (the “rent”).
The costs associated with operating a crop production facility and marketing, marketing and distribution program can be extremely expensive. A typical subsidy grant covers costs for machinery, water, seeds, fertilizer, and other costs, but not the land, labor, or capital.
To qualify for a USDA grant, you have to meet several requirements – including:
The crop must be of a certain size or production and/or yield
The crop must be locally grown or locally produced;
The recipient must be able to grow that crop profitably
The crop must be cultivated in a “normal business” manner, which means not overwork people for years and hours so as to prevent them from selling the crop or moving on when it is no longer profitable
The farmer or producer must be able to afford or obtain adequate capital (not just money) for operating the farm, including mortgages and construction that will not impact the crop, equipment, or finances.
So for example, a large-scale production facility like a windmill requires some capital investment to buy the plant, but a farmer who grows a variety of crops and then produces more of them can make enough money per acre to cover his expenses. On the other hand, a small farm can’t afford to purchase such equipment; a farmer might grow a whole grain wheat crop and sell some of
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