It was in 1984 when the alpacas were first brought to the United States and since then, it has become the farmer’s most favorite animal. An alpaca is much like a llama in appearance with its thick and soft wool, much like mohair, but it takes longer for it to grow which is why it is more in demand and quite expensive. It usually weighs between 40 to 90 kilograms and normally stands about 1 meter in height. Alpacas are easy to take care of as farming animals and just like cows and sheep, they like to chew on cud and graze on grasses. They live for more or less 20 years and they can reproduce without any trouble. Breeding and growing alpacas are becoming more common in the livestock industry and if you are looking into putting up your own alpaca farm, you can apply for generous grants for alpaca farming that are available to alpaca farmers in the country. It was a big help that the U.S. federal government officially labeled alpacas as farm livestock animals from exotic species in 2008 which is why they qualify for federal grants for livestock animals. The programs include funding for new farming and ranching operations, expansion of business, value-added agricultural products and cooperative marketing.
The funding for new farming and ranching operations or the rancher development program was structured to encourage the development of new farms in the U.S. This program is specifically called the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and it offers grants of indefinite amount to alpaca ranches which are operated by people who have very little experience in the industry. The program also provides funding for other kinds of farms and ranches that are operated by one or more persons who have less than 10 years of experience in farming or ranching.
The Value Added Producer Grants are arranged by the USDA Rural Development office for the independent farmers and ranchers who desire to sell value-added agricultural products. This grant is available to alpaca ranches, who offer value-added service like business and marketing assistance to new buyers of alpaca, free re-breedings for pregnant dams and the choice to attend to alpaca-care seminars aside from just the regular breeding and selling of livestock. The other product that comes from alpaca farms that can be considered as value-added service is selling of fleece products. Also entitled for these types of grants are rancher and farmer cooperatives.
The Small Farm Success Project applies to alpaca ranches and other types of farms located in the Mid-Atlantic region such as Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. This is funded by USDA. The amount of $500 dollars is granted to farmers or ranches that are considering expanding their customer base by marketing and conducting other projects which they can get from the Individual Farm Marketing Grants program while the Group Marketing Grants awards up to $4,000 to farm cooperatives, groups and organizations on the Mid-Atlantic states who are working on original marketing plans.