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As a Food & Agricultural Development Center, Headwaters is part of a statewide network that provides assistance in food and value-added agricultural product development, marketing, and farm-based energy development. With centers in Joliet, Havre, Ronan, Bozeman, Greatfalls, Wolf Point and Butte, the network focuses on adding value to existing agricultural resources within Montana.

We work to support economic development by ensuring that more of the state’s food, agricultural and energy dollars circulate in Montana by keeping more of our agricultural products within the state by processing them locally.

Here at Headwaters, our services and expertise include:


  • Educational and training workshops

  • Revolving and micro loan funds

  • Business plan assistance

  • Financial and market assistance

  • Food system research and analysis

  • Renewable energy, including biomass

Additional training, coaching and technical assistance provided by the network, include:


  • Product development, testing and analysis

  • Regulatory compliance training

  • Food processing

  • Business planning and development

  • Market research

  • Business networking

  • Access to financing

  • Cooperative development

  • Education on industry dynamics and technologies

We need your input!

Headwaters RC&D Small Business Development Center and Food and Ag. Development Center want to bring valuable resources to small business owners and individuals in Southwest Montana. 

Please take a moment to tell us what topics and trainings you would like to see us host in this upcoming year. We will use this information to help us seek out various qualified presenters to bring to you. 



The department offers the following grant and loan opportunities for agriculture-related enterprises. Contact MDA for application assistance, or to request information about additional programs and opportunities.

  • Commodity Crop Development Programs are available for Alfalfa Seed, Pulse Crops (Peas, Lentils & Chickpeas), Potatoes, and Wheat & Barley.

    • The Alfalfa Seed Program, established under the Alfalfa Seed Industry Act, provides direction for research and marketing toward the continued growth of the alfalfa seed industry of Montana. The program is directed by the Montana Alfalfa Seed Committee.

    • The Pulse Crop Research & Market Development Program provides support for pea, lentil and chickpea production. It is funded by industry fees and led by the Pulse Crop Advisory Council.

    • The Potato Research & Market Development Program is funded by industry and led by the Montana Potato Advisory Committee.

    • The Montana Wheat & Barley Committee (MWBC) administers research and marketing activities for Montana small grain crops. The MWBC is funded by a producer checkoff and guided by a Board of Directors made up of producers from around the state.

  • Growth Through Agriculture (GTA) offers investments for new and innovative agribusiness developments or agriculture marketing programs. The Agriculture Development Council, which consists of representatives from industry and government, reviews applications and selects successful projects for GTA investments.

  • Junior Agriculture Loans assist and encourage members of agricultural youth organizations in financing agricultural projects when funding is unavailable from other sources. Projects can involve crop and livestock production, custom farming, marketing, processing and other financially feasible projects.

  • Noxious Weed Trust Fund Grants were established by the 1985 Montana Legislature to provide funding for the development and implementation of weed management programs. The trust fund also supports research and development of innovative weed management techniques including biological controls, and funds research and education projects.

  • Rural Assistance Loans are available to producers with modest financial investments in agriculture. These loans finance agricultural enterprises to enhance producers' operations and assist in the economic growth and welfare of Montana agriculture.

    • Beginning Farm & Ranch Loans are available from a tax-exempt bond program that aids financial institutions in assisting Montana's beginning farmers and ranchers. Loans can be used to purchase agricultural land and other depreciable agricultural property.

  • State Tax Deduction for Sale of Agricultural Land : Sellers of agricultural land may obtain up to $50,000 in state tax-deductions against capital gains and other earnings associated with the sale of land to a qualified beginning farmer or rancher if it complies with other statutory requirements. The deduction may be claimed over several years against state taxes only, but may not exceed the maximum amount of $50,000. Download the Application Form for a State Tax Deduction for Sale of Agricultural Land.

  • Specialty Crop Block Grants offer grant funds to Montana's specialty crop industry solely to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in Montana: fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture). Funds are provided from the federal USDA Farm Bill.

Newsletter Sign Up
Montana Food and Beverage Show
October 16
Missoula, Montana

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to showcase your products at the annual Montana Food and Beverage Show!  The show will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn, Missoula, MT, Monday, October 16, 2023.  The show hours will be from 11am – 6pm.  Learn more at

Montana Economic Developers Association (MEDA) Conference
October 2023
Butte, Montana

Annual Montana Hops Growers Summit – Montana Craft Malt
November 9-10
Butte, Montana
QuickBooks for Small Business
November-December 2023
Butte, Montana
​Renewable Energy for America Program grant (REAP)

Award Amounts: $25,000-$250,000

Applications Due: September 30 OR December 31, 2023

Purpose: This USDA Program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Agricultural producers may also apply for new energy-efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing. Examples of eligible projects include: Energy efficiency - updating insulation, lighting, HVAC, doors, and windows, switching from diesel to electric irritation motors. Renewable energy systems - biomass, geothermal for electric generation, wind generation, solar generation.

More Information:

Renewable Energy for America Program grant (REAP)

Award Amounts: Up to $250,000 working capital

Applications Due: May 11, 2023

Purpose: The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers enter value-added activities to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income. You may receive priority if you are: Beginning farmer or rancher. Socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher. Small or medium-sized farm. Ranch structured as a family farm. Farmer or rancher cooperative. Proposing a mid-tier value chain.

More Information:

Meat Poultry Intermediary Lending Program

Award Amounts: TBD

Applications Due: Rolling


MPILP provides funding for the start-up, expansion, or operation of slaughter, or other processing of meat and poultry.  The objective of MPILP is to strengthen the financing capacity for independent meat processors and create a more resilient, diverse, and secure U.S. food supply chain.

The need for more meat processors in Southwest Montana stems from the increasing demand for locally sourced and ethically raised meat. This program will provide the capital needed for start-ups or expansions of meat processing facilities.

More Information:

COMING SOON!  MT Department of Ag Growth Through Agriculture (GTA)

  • 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.

  • Pre-application window opens October 2nd, 2023; Pre-applications due October 23rd, 2023

MT Department of Agriculture Beginning Farm/Ranch Loans

  • The Montana Beginning Farm/Ranch Loan Program is a tax-exempt bond program designed to assist beginning farmers and ranchers to acquire agricultural property at lower interest rates.

  • The program enables Montana lenders, individuals, partnerships and other entities to receive federally tax-exempt interest from bonds associated with a loan or contract sale made to a beginning farmer or rancher. The financial institution, after arranging the loan or sales contract, will obtain a federally tax-exempt bond through the department, serving as Montana Agriculture Loan Authority, in the amount of the loan or unpaid balance. The loan and its collateral are assigned to the financial institution as security for the bond.

  • There is no minimum loan amount, under the program. The financial institution will make a credit evaluation of the beginning farmer/rancher, establish collateral deemed necessary and, with the beginning farmer/rancher, arrange the terms of the loan or contract.

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