Serving Montana Agriculture and growing prosperity under the Big Sky

Growth Through Agriculture

2022 Growth Through Agriculture Program 

The Growth Through Agriculture (GTA) program is a grant and loan program established by the Montana Legislature to strengthen and diversify Montana's agricultural industry through the development of new agricultural products and processes. Examples of eligible project activities involve equipment purchases, construction costs, advertising and promotion, and consultant services for engineering. The GTA program is administered by the Agriculture Development Council (Council) which is attached to the Department of Agriculture.

Award Amounts:

  • Grants up to $50,000
  • Loans up to $100,000

Growth Through Agriculture Program Guidelines

Sign up for information on funding opportunities


*NEW!* GTA Business Acceleration Program

The Montana Department of Agriculture is excited to offer the GTA Business Acceleration Program (BAP), to support businesses entering expansionary phases of growth through planning and development of viable agriculture products and technologies resulting in capital investment. Funds are available now and are awarded on a rolling basis, in the order the application is received, until funds are expended. These funds are to:

  • Fund projects still in early expansionary phase of development
  • Support startup businesses in minimizing time to profitability
  • Offer expanding businesses the ability to establish groundwork for capital expenditure
  • Accelerate new, innovative products up to commercialization

Award Amounts:

  • Grants up to $20,000 over two years

GTA Business Acceleration Program Guidelines

Apply Here


*NEW!* GTA Market Development Program 

The Montana Department of Agriculture is excited to offer the GTA Market Development Program (MDP), to aid in the access, development, and expansion of new markets. These funds are to:

  • Help businesses access and develop new and existing markets
  • Support businesses in overcoming market barriers
  • Expand businesses’ digital/web offerings, including e-commerce
  • Allow businesses to showcase products in domestic and international tradeshows and competitions

Award Amounts:

  • Grants up to $5,000 over 1 year

GTA Marketing Development Program Guidelines

Apply Here


Options:

Sequence of Grant Programs

Scenario 1:
Apply for GTA first:
GTA Option 1 - File for GTA first chart
Scenario 2:
Apply for MDP first:
GTA Option 2 - Apply for DMP first chart
Scenario 3:
Apply for BAP first:
GTA Option 3 - Apply for BAP first chart

Important Dates

2022 Important Dates for GTA Applications

Important Dates
Date Time Event Venue
Monday, August 29, 2022 12:00 p.m. Pre-Application Technical Assistance Call

Link to Training

Monday, September 12, 2022 5:00 p.m. Pre-Application Submission Deadline If you experience any technical difficulties submitting your application, email gta@mt.gov prior to the submission deadline.
Mid October, 2022 1:00 p.m. Pre-Application Status Notification The Agriculture Development Council will review all Pre-Applications. In early/mid October you will be notified if you have been invited to complete a full application and video presentation to the Council.
Tuesday, November 15, 2022 1:00 p.m. Technical Assistance Call #1 Link to Training
Monday, December 5, 2022 1:00 p.m. Technical Assistance Call #2 Link to Training
Monday, December 12, 2022 5:00 p.m. Full Application and Video Deadline

 

February, 2023   GTA Review Meetings  

More Information

Eligibility Criteria:

The Council may make a grant or loan if it determines a project is consistent with the goals of the Growth Through Agriculture Act. Projects should primarily add value to Montana's agricultural products and have the potential to create and/or retain jobs in Montana.

BEFORE beginning the application process, the applicant should be able to document exactly how the project will expand Montana agriculture. For example, the growth could be measurable either in terms of increased sales (by dollar amount or percentage) or in number of jobs created.

The Council strongly urges applicants to contact the Food and Agricultural Development Center network, Small Business Development Center network, and their local economic development organization for assistance with their GTA application, financial projections, business and marketing plans as necessary. In addition, the Department is offering the use of this one-page financials template for interested businesses that have been invited to apply and present for the main GTA program: found here

Projects may potentially be funded in a single application for a maximum total amount of $150,000 in the form of grant funding up to $50,000 and loan funding up to $100,000. Examples of project activities involve equipment purchases, advertising and promotion, and consultant services such as engineering costs. A $1 for $1 match is required for all proposals.


Targeted Areas for Funding:

The Council designated the following areas to be eligible for consideration for 0% interest rate loans:

  • Applicant likely does not have access to a conventional loan, such as a startup, or
  • Business is mature and working toward expansion.

Apply Online:

Instructions for Completing a GTA Application:

  1. Read the GTA Program Guidelines in order to determine whether or not your project is eligible and learn more about the details of the program to begin the GTA application process.
  2. Contact the Food and Agriculture Development Center Network, Small Business Development Center network, and your local economic development organization to discuss your project and request assistance in applying for your Growth Through Agriculture grant or loan.
  3. Register with the Montana Secretary of State . If your company is not already registered with the Montana Secretary of State, you may need to do so before going further with the application process. Organizations other than Sole Proprietorships must be registered with the Montana Secretary of State prior to submittal of the GTA application. Any application from an organization that is not registered with the Montana Secretary of State will not be accepted.
  4. Register and Apply Online: Growth Through Agriculture (GTA) applications are available online here.
  5. If you have questions, email gta@mt.gov.

Pioneer Meats of Big Timber, Montana, a Montana Growth Through Agriculture business.

Grant and Loan Reporting

Reports are required of all applicants who accept either a GTA grant or loan award. These are due on the dates set forth in the award contract until the project is complete, at which time a comprehensive final report is due.

These annual and final reports are required to be filled out through the Amplifund system at mt.amplifund.com. Use the same user ID and password issued during registration to apply for Growth Through Agriculture funding.

Please contact GTA program staff using the information listed on this page if you have further questions about the program or reporting processes.


Growth Through Agriculture Project Locations (1989-2022)

Click here to view the full map in a new tab.

Montana Agriculture Development Council

The Agriculture Development Council establishes policies and priorities to enhance the future development of agriculture in Montana including the award of loans and grants offered through the Growth Through Agriculture (GTA) program.

The committee is appointed by the Governor and composed of seven members. Board members serve three-year terms. For additional information about Governor appointed Boards and Councils, visit the Boards, Councils & Commissions website from Montana.Gov.

Board Members
Name Vocation Contact Info Email Term Expires
Sara Hollenbeck 212 Oil Well Rd.
Molt, MT 59057
highfivemeats@gmail.com 7/1/2025
Lars Hanson P.O. Box 6
Edgar, MT 59026
lars.hanson@fib.com 7/1/2023
George Kipp, III P.O. Box 191
Heart Butte, MT 59448
pitawahsta@gmail.com 7/1/2023
Megan Hedges PO Box 571
Chester, MT 59522
hedgesmeganm@gmail.com 7/1/2023
John Wicks Vice Chair 5238 Broadhurst Road
Ledger, MT 59456
tiber.ridge.inc@gmail.com 7/1/2025
Scott Osterman Commerce Director,
Statutory Appointment
Dept. of Commerce
PO Box 200501
Helena, MT 59620
commerce.mt.gov/Contact
scott.osterman@mt.gov  

Christy Clark

Agriculture Director,
Statutory Appointment
Dept. of Agriculture
PO Box 200201
Helena, MT 49620
agr@mt.gov  
Administration:
Christy Clark, Deputy Director, Department of Agriculture
Andy Fjeseth, Bureau Chief, Agriculture Development and Marketing Bureau
Aly Townsend, Grants Manager, Agriculture Development and Marketing Bureau
Bailey Kaskie, GTA Program Specialist
Marty Earnheart, Marketing Officer
Walt Anseth, Rural Development and Section Manager
Alicia Hamm, Marketing Officer
Dani Jones, Hail Program Technician and Attached Boards

Agriculture Development Council Agendas & Minutes


Growth Through Agriculture (GTA) Frequently Asked Questions

Where do we find information on what costs are allowable?

This information is available in the Growth Through Agriculture (GTA) Program Guidelines document available on https://agr.mt.gov/GTA. A list of eligible and ineligible costs are listed in the first few pages of the document.


Match

Match can be counted from December 12, 2021 (a year before the application deadline).

Types and make up of match

Please reference the program guidelines at https://agr.mt.gov/GTA. Below is a list of some examples of how match can be proposed. It is not all inclusive, but encompasses most of the ways that match could be requested.

Possible match scenarios:

  • Match Example #1 (Simplest) – Purchasing 1 piece of equipment after 12/7/2020 for $50,000 – requesting $25,000 GTA and $25,000 matching funds to come from company
  • Match Example #2 – (all prior match)
    • 12/7/19 – 12/6/2020 – (before application deadline) Purchased $25,000 worth of equipment and construction costs
    • AFTER 12/7/2020 - Purchasing equipment for $25,000
  • Match Example #3 - 2 activities –
    • Purchasing Equipment piece #1 - $25,000 – requesting GTA funds
    • Purchasing equipment piece #2 or other matching activities - $25,000 – matching funds
    • Note – if purchasing item #1 first and then #2 later, GTA funds can only be reimbursed as matching funds are documented. $12,500 would be able to be reimbursed until piece of equipment #2 is purchased and documentation
      submitted to the Dept. then remaining $12,500 would be able to be reimbursed.
  • Match Example #4 - Purchasing several items and activities – before and after 12/7/2020. $50,000 total
    • $12,500 match documented between 12/7/2019 – 12/6/2020 (prior match)
    • $12,500 proposed future match after 12/7/2020
    • $25,000 GTA funds requested for multiple activities after 12/7/2020
    • If funded, GTA funds would only be able to be reimbursed (that means that if funded, the grant funded activity would need to be paid for by the grant/loan recipient, and then invoice/receipts, etc would be submitted to the Dept. for reimbursement.

What is the average award amount?

The average award amount for the last 3 years has been $20,000 - $35,000. Many of these awards were partially funded requests. A list of all the projects funded by year for the last several years is available on https://agr.mt.gov/GTA. Scroll to the bottom of the page under More Information.


Will the Council consider partially funding a request?

Yes, the Agriculture Development Council reviews all proposals and can decide to fully fund, not to fund or to partially fund any proposal. For example, $50,000 could be requested, but the Council may decide to fund $25,000 or to fund just one or two of the activities proposed in the request.


If I am awarded GTA funds, can GTA funds be reimbursed even though we haven’t spent all our match?

No, however, GTA funds can be reimbursed based on 50% of the GTA documented expenses until such time as the eligible matching funds have been documented.


If I am awarded funds, will I be sent a check right away?

No, GTA funds are only available on a reimbursement basis. If an applicant is successful in applying for funds, an award letter and then a contract will be sent for review and signature. Once the contract is signed by both parties, the successful award recipient can submit requests for reimbursement with the required receipts, invoices or other required documentation.


Can I spend $20,000 and then be cut a check for $20,000 to buy equipment with the GTA funds?

No, GTA funds can only be distributed on a reimbursement basis. Applicants should plan with this requirement in mind to cash their project activities. Some applicants have spoken with a lender to get a line of credit available contingent upon a copy of a GTA award letter so that funds can be available to purchase equipment or pay for project activities and then request reimbursement from the GTA funding. Reimbursement typically takes 2-3 weeks, but during high volume times can take up to 30 days to process.


What considerations do I need to make if I’m requesting GTA funds and have a bank or other lender involved that is also financing the project?

Keep in mind that GTA will require a personal guarantee as well as a security lien on equipment purchased with GRANT and LOAN funds. (Please note the personal guarantee and security sections of the application).

  • Grant awards only have a security lien filed until final grant reporting is completed.
  • Loan awards have a security lien in place until the loan is paid off. If you are requesting GTA funds for part of a purchase of equipment and a lender is financing the other half, please notify GTA staff to discuss possible security lien implications and options.

If I have prior matching costs, do I have to attach all the invoices for those matching costs to the application?

Yes, it is highly recommended to attach the actual invoices or receipts for activities that are being requested to meet match requirements that have already been spent. An overview of prior matching costs is permissible, but note that if funded, successful recipients will be required to submit copies of all invoices, receipts and other documentation before reimbursement is provided. This has delayed several past funding recipients by several weeks as that information is gathered again several months later.


How soon can I get funds? Reimbursement Timing

Standard timing is 2-3 weeks for reimbursement requests. Award recipients are encouraged to submit requests for payment as soon as possible. If award recipients wait several weeks to submit claim for reimbursement, keep in mind that it will be at least 2-3 weeks after it is submitted before the Department will be able to review and complete the payment process. This is due to the volume of accounting requests the Department processes on a daily basis and the required steps of program and accounting approval required for the release of state funds. If paperwork is submitted to get set up for EFT, this can make payment receipt faster.


May we use staff at Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) as a resource in preparing our grant application?

See answer to next question.


Will MDA staff review my application prior to submittal?

MDA staff involved in reviewing and managing Growth Through Agriculture (GTA) may only provide responses to applicant’s technical questions with application and process compliance. Involved staff include: GTA program manager, Agriculture Development and Marketing Bureau Chief, ADD Staff Attorney, MDA Deputy Director, and MDA Director.

MDA staff who are not involved in the making of GTA grants are an available resource to all potential applicants however, they are not available to participate in the writing of a proposal.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the Food and Agriculture Development Center Network (www.foodandag.mt.gov) the Small Business Development Center Network (www.sbdc.mt.gov) and/or their local economic development organization (https://www.eda.gov/resources/economic-development-directory/states/mt.htm) as resources in developing their GTA application.


Is there a scoring system for the program?

Yes. This is addressed in the program manual. The council gives one score of high, medium, or low. The areas of consideration are also listed in the grant manual.


Is there a difference in how grants and loans are reviewed?

No, they are reviewed through the same process.


Growth Through Agriculture News

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