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Grants available for many different kinds of farm improvements

—By Kathleen M. Dutro
Public Relations Team

Sarah Aubrey of Morgan County has written a book intended to help farmers and other small-business owners find and qualify for government grants. Photo by Kathleen M. Dutro

“There’s an app for that” has become a cliché because there actually is an app for almost everything.

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that there’s a grant for that, said author Sarah Aubrey, Farm Bureau voting member and owner of Prosperity Consulting in Morgan County.

“Every day of my life is, ‘Is there a grant for that?’” Aubrey said. “I get asked that in the elevator, in the drive-up for Starbucks – I literally got asked that one time – by peers and every phone conversation that I have.

“The answer, of course, is ‘Maybe,’” she said.

There are more grants available to farmers than most farmers realize, she added – for improving energy efficiency, for making conservation improvements, for installing more efficient equipment.

“We’ve done over 800 grants for grain dryer improvements…We do irrigation equipment upgrades because of the new, improved energy efficiency.

“What I don’t see grants for, so much, is land acquisition,” she added.

Aubrey and her husband, Cary, live in Morgan County where they raise purebred Herefords and Simmentals. Her business is operated from a little old farmhouse just a few steps away from one of the pastures.

Helping people identify and qualify for grants is a big part of the business – and it’s the topic of her new book, Find Grant Funding Now! The Five-Step Process for Entrepreneurs and Business.

“My favorite thing to talk about, besides farming, is books,” she enthused.

This particular book is about the approach she takes to writing grants: “The feasibility, should we partner with this agency or not, can we actually administer this money if we get it, can we meet these terms. I wanted to talk more about those things than how to write the grant,” Aubrey explained, adding that there are already plenty of great resources available on grant writing itself.

The book’s focus is “how entrepreneurs and businesses might want to take a look at this as an alternative funding source, just like lending or venture capital. It’s another non-perfect way to find money for a portion of the work you need to do,” she said.

And, she added, grants are not just for large companies. “I’ve worked on $45 million grants and $5,000 grants and everything in between,” she noted.

This is Aubrey’s third book, and it’s her first to appear in hardback. Her first two are on creating on-farm businesses: Starting & Running Your Own Small Farm Business (which came out in 2007) and The Profitable Hobby Farm: How to Build a Sustainable Local Foods Business (2010).

Another part of her business is strategic planning, market consulting and proposal writing, and she, her employees and freelancers still do those things. But grant writing has become more important as grants for farmers have become widely available, particularly through the USDA.

To help would-be grantees figure out if they might qualify for a grant, Aubrey has created project assessment and grant assessment tools that are available on her website, prosperityconsultingsba.com. The tools help people with a “crazy-great idea” figure out where they are in the process of turning that idea into a business, she said.

Wiley Publishing, the publisher of Find Grant Funding Now!, is offering a 30 percent discount off the list price of $49.95 to those who purchase the hardcover book through the website wiley.com. To qualify, go to the website and use the promo code “AUB30” (no quote marks). The offer is good through April 30, 2015.

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