Back in the glory days of agriculture of the late '70s, as some still call them, right or wrong, it's a fact that on at least one occasion an equipment dealer and a loan officer rode the side roads together. One pitched his wares, and the other showed how the farmer could pay for it. Neither were around when things crashed in the early '80s and the farmer was left holding the bad end of a loan he perhaps didn't need in the first place.
Make sure history doesn't' repeat itself. If you buy a grain dryer this spring for next fall, buy it because you need it and because you can handle the debt, not because you might get a 25% refund on the installation from the government. There's a grant program that was allowed for in the 2008 Farm Bill that will pay for 25% of construction if the new dryer is more efficient than the one you started with. You have to be replacing a dryer, not buying one for the first time.
The trick is you need to hire a grant writer to help you fill out the paperwork showing exactly how much more efficient the new dryer will be, and how to fill out the paperwork. Or at least most farmers who have looked at the forms required decided they needed help from a grant writer. While they're not hanging out where they sell grain dryers, as far as we know, most grain dryer sales reps can provide you with a list of people who will write the grants.
You can get the same list from the Indiana Rural Development Office. Dean Edwards, director of business programs there, will send you the list if you call him at 317-290-3100, ext 427, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can contact Jerry Hay, energy specialist with Indiana Rural Development to get the same list. Reach him at : 812-346-3411, ext 126, or email email@example.com.
Along with the list, either one of these gentlemen will make it clear that there are no guarantees that you will receive the funds. The program existed last year. Of 81 applications in Indiana 45 were approved and funded. And if your application is accepted, it's still subject to having enough money available to make the payments. This program competes with other federal programs for dollars, Edwards says. If your grant is successful and it gets funded, you should receive the money sometime this summer.
Edwards believes it's a good program for someone who's going to buy a dryer anyway, no matter what. "If you receive the reimbursement for 25% of the project, it's icing on the cake," he says.
But he also adds "There's no guarantee we'll be able to fund any application."