I just went through the application process and was approved for an similar EQUIP contract .
I am astonished that you weren't aware of this financial piece- early on in the application process ! It is a prime objective of the NRCS to draw contracts that stabilize farms, rather then hedging them to commit to financial obligations that they cannot sustainably honor. 
If this is their short fall i recommend that you write a letter to your co.NRCS office , to make them aware that they need to better support new EQUIP applicants in understanding the contract. -What a mess !
I know that financing is available for High tunnels through most dealers.. and then you could reserve your cash for the drain bed/lumber.  
Also there is a document review service you can request through certifying agents that allows for a lower cost transition , for low earning farms. I'm not sure if this will be sufficient to meet your contracts requirements.There is usually cost share for cert fees offered on a federal level to most states (first come first served).
This really seems like an opportunity for CSA- find 15 families to "invest" in a share of veggies , w/ your short growing season you could probably find people who would really value the opportunity to support you, in establishing a season extending HT .
What about your tribe.. cant you draw a loan from them ? 
- that's all i got !  good luck ! 
Chris & Mari Reijmerink
Kismet Organics, A family fruit farm.
Fennville Michigan 49408

--- On Mon, 4/12/10, Martha (Dindoffer) Dopkowski <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: Martha (Dindoffer) Dopkowski <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Monday, April 12, 2010, 5:51 PM

OK. Here I am:  a Native American (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians) limited financial resource (our household AGI is below our county's poverty level) beginning (vegetable) farmer who is converting to organic. In 2009, using biointesive farming methods and hand tools alone, I managed to produce little more than $1,000 worth of crops.

I applied for the high tunnel and organic conversion EQUIP funding and was recently approved. However, it was not until AFTER I'd signed the contract that I discovered the Catch 22: I've got to buy the high tunnel (I've been approved for a 30X72 foot unit) and set it up FIRST in order to obtain my (so-called) 90% REIMBURSEMENT!!!! (Just how did they expect their limited financial resource applicants to fund this thing? If I had the funding or the credit in the first place, I wouldn't have needed to apply!)

As if this weren't enough, it turns out that the shipping cost (I live in Monroe county just south of Ann Arbor) on the high tunnel alone is equal to or in excess of my so-called 10% share of $500 (which is all I've been able to scrape together thus far.) And that doesn't even account for the lumber I'd still need to buy for the basebords and ends.

Further, I've also got to come up with 100% of the funds to pay for the organic transitioning certification/verification.

Please understand that I was never given any written or verbal information about this being a reimbursement rather than a disbursement until AFTER I'd signed the approval document; nor was I provided with any information about what the organic conversion part of the program would or would not finance. Otherwise, I would have also been working on obtaining additional financing/help these past two months.

Sooooo... If anyone has any ideas - no matter how far fetched - I'd sure appreciate it. I'd truly hate to miss out just because I don't have the up-front money to complete this process.

Thanks in advance. You guys are all wonderful!!
Martha (Dindoffer) Dopkowski +X+

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