Programs

Research

We are bringing South Carolina’s premier researchers together to assist in developing cutting edge, new technologies for the food, feed and agribusiness world. Our Director of Research is working to connect agribusiness challenges with South Carolina higher education researchers to create new solutions and technologies. She will work to ensure safety of food and agricultural products, to promote environmentally sound practices, and to develop new market opportunities for the South Carolina agricultural industry.

Research

Agribusiness Planning Curriculum (Fall)

ACRE’s fall agribusiness planning curriculum is open to a variety of people: new farmers who are having business issues, existing farmers who need help on the business side of their operation, farmers looking to expand or grow their business, and prospective agricultural entrepreneurs who don’t know where to start. The curriculum takes place in Columbia and is taught by the Clemson Agribusiness Extension Program Team.

The curriculum is held in the fall, with five two-hour courses spread out over six weeks, concluding with a pitch day. Attendees will receive training in marketing, financial planning, value-added processes, legal requirements, state and federal grant opportunities, and more.

Upon completion of the program, each participant will have built their own business plan, receive a certificate verifying successful completion, and will have the opportunity to pitch their business for the chance to be awarded one of five $5,000 grants. Past grant winners have been in the fields of horticulture, wool, specialty crops, agricultural education, direct to consumer sales, and container farming, to name a few. To read about a few of the past curriculum winners, click on the “Profiles” tab above.

This a free but competitive program — spots are limited. Participants are required to submit a $100 deposit, which is refunded to them upon successful completion.

Applications for the 2020 Agribusiness Planning Curriculum are now open! For more information or to sign up for updates, contact Kyle Player at kplayer@scda.sc.gov or 803-734-2324.

Download the Agribusiness Planning Curriculum Application

Advanced Entrepreneurship Program (Spring)

Our advanced entrepreneurship program, held each year in the late spring, is ACRE’s flagship program that seeks to invest in agricultural entrepreneurship in South Carolina. This competitive program is suited towards agribusinesses of all types that seek funding and mentorship in order to grow or expand their market.

The Advanced Entrepreneurship Program is designed for committed, hard-working entrepreneurs armed with a product they are invested in and passionate about. Applicants must be South Carolina residents, possess a business plan, and have an existing product, prototype, or business. Previous awardees have ranged from upstart businesses with their first crop in the ground to long-time businesses seeking to launch a new product line. To read about some of our past Advanced Entrepreneurship awardees, visit our Profiles page.

Applicants selected as finalists will be asked to pitch their business to a panel of judges. Following the pitch day, the judges will calculate cumulative scores from the pitch, application, and business plan, and will use these scores to determine the awardees.

Awardees receive up to $25,000 in grant funding, access to a network of business advisors, professional assistance with further state and federal grant applications, and promotion of their product across the state and beyond. Having the backing of the SCDA after this competitive vetting and application process helps with future funding as well — previous awardees have gone on to successfully receive angel investment, federal grants, and regional awards.

Applications can be completed online or printed. For more information or to sign up for updates, contact Kyle Player at kplayer@scda.sc.gov or 803-734-2324.

Workshops

ACRE supports and participates in a variety of agribusiness activities throughout the state. We believe in extending agricultural education and knowledge to all South Carolinians.

These workshops are free of charge and are held in partnership with organizations such as Clemson Extension, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), SCORE, Rural Resource Coalition, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Bureau, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), and others. These workshops cover a variety of topics relating to agricultural entrepreneurship, in addition to key information about organizations and funding that can help you grow or begin your agribusiness.

Our workshops are held periodically throughout the year, so check the News page to find one near you, or sign up to receive regular email updates by contacting Kyle Player at kplayer@scda.sc.gov or 803-734-2324.

 

View the Switching to Online Markets for Farmers webinar by ACRE and SBDC

Access password: 4N@$A372

Columbia, SC
Barnwell, SC

Small Business Energy Grants and Incentives Recording

The purpose of Farm Link is to facilitate land transfer between farm owners and farm seekers. We want to see as much farmland be utilized in South Carolina as possible, and we seek to do so by encouraging both traditional (sale, lease, lease-to-own) and non-traditional forms of land transfer (farm apprenticeships, free land usage, internships, and more). We do so by acting as a land matchmaker for any person — whether a South Carolina resident or not — who is interested in farming in our state. In addition, we also can connect farmers with organizations that assist with the legal side of land transfer.

If you have farmland available or are looking for some, just fill out the appropriate form below and email it to Kyle Player at kplayer@scda.sc.gov.

Applications

Download the Landowner Application

Download the Farm Seeker Application

View Available Acreage here

Agribusiness Development Grants

ACRE partners with Matson Consulting, an agribusiness consulting firm in Aiken, in order to produce a comprehensive guide to agribusiness grants, which can be found here. Matson Consulting has helped ACRE entrepreneurs apply for Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG), Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants, and others. When you are awarded funding or accepted into the curriculum you get access to Matson Consulting for assistance with your business plan and grant applications.

Local Food and Logistics

The SC Food Hub Network’s mission is to ensure the food hubs of South Carolina have the capacity, network, and support to advance the visibility and viability of local farms by connecting local foods to local markets. As an emerging approach to state level food system coordination, the creation of a hub network is a pioneering approach that enables hubs to work collaboratively to increase capacity for more diverse and larger volume transactions that increase the marketability and distribution of locally grown product.

Recognizing the early success and potential of the network, ACRE invested $175,000 in the South Carolina Food Hub Network to support network expansion. These funds were used both to support the hubs directly as well as retain consultants to continue facilitating the burgeoning network, provide technical assistance, identify challenges and opportunities, engage stakeholders, and make recommendations for the future.