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By Valley Ag Voice Staff

The new year offers several opportunities for California farmers and ranchers to apply for and secure financial assistance as the industry faces ongoing challenges. Increased costs in almost every part of production, including a boost to minimum wage, have created another obstacle for Central Valley agriculture. 


The California Department of Food and Agriculture is offering drought relief grants to small and underserved producers in the state in amounts of $1,000 – $20,000 per farmer. Funding is expected to cover production and planting expenses, water cost increases, electricity costs, emergency irrigation system, and well equipment upgrades, and well repairs. The program primarily targets smaller farms, with applications set to close on Jan 15. 

The California Office of the Small Business Advocate is also offering a drought relief program and recently extended its deadline to Jan. 15. The California Small Agricultural Business Drought & Flood Relief Grant Program is open to small agricultural businesses that experienced a decline in annual gross receipts or gross profits due to drought or storm flood conditions. Additionally, farmers who are members of agricultural cooperatives and have also been affected by drought or flood conditions are eligible to compete.

The University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources education program opened a grant for projects that build the capacity of farming and food systems businesses. Funding is limited to California farmers, ranchers, and land stewards of all scales in transitioning to approaches that will build upon sustainable agriculture. UC ANR is also offering support for California’s rural, urban, and Tribal communities.  

Proposals for the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program are due Jan. 9 by 12 p.m. 


CDFA opened applications for the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program to strengthen the food supply chain and provide better markets for small farmers. The grant program is competitive and awards projects that improve upon the agricultural supply chain.

Applicants have the opportunity to attend two webinars to check their eligibility and learn more about the program. Webinar dates are Jan. 8 at 10 a.m. and Feb. 1 at 1 p.m. The deadline to apply is Feb. 26.


Among other applicants, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2024 Farm to School Grants are open to agricultural producers or groups of producers to help increase the availability of local foods in schools. The program awards projects of 24 months in length up to $500,000. Applications close Jan 12.  


Another CDFA grant targets pest and disease research for Pierce’s Disease and other common diseases in grapes. Funding support will go toward research and projects specializing in protecting vineyards, preventing the spread of pests and diseases, and creating sustainable solutions.  

In the past, awards ranged from $4,300 per year to $383,000 per year, with most projects ranging from one to three years. 


The National Young Farmers Coalition partnered with Chipotle to offer $5,000 grants to 50 young farmers and ranchers to support developing careers in agriculture. This year will mark the last year of the Coalition’s Young Farmer Grant program.  

Forty-five awards will go to businesses currently in operation, as well as five farm and ranch operations starting up in 2024. Applications for the Young Farmer Grant Program close on Jan. 15. 

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