Small Farm Funding Resources
Small Farm Funding Resources
Rural Information Center (U.S.)
Beltsville, MD: USDA, National Agricultural Library, Rural Information Center,  Rev.
Updated by Mary Louise Reynnells. June, 2014.
Original edition: September 2005 by Patricia La Caille John.
Video to this guide: http://afsic.nal.usda.gov/videos/guides
- Developing a Farm Business Plan
- Financial and Planning Resources
- Funding and Program Assistance
- Veteran Resources
- Agriculture Disaster Assistance
- Organizations and Web Sites
This guide contains information about issues to consider before starting a farming operation with links to full-text guides on how to start a farm business and develop business and marketing plans. It also contains information about funding programs for beginning and experienced farmers, technical assistance contacts, disaster assistance, and organizations with resources.
If you are just starting out you may also want to consult the New Farmers website, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/newfarmers?navid=newfarmers and the Start2Farm website, a service of the National Agricultural Library of the U.S. Department of Agriculture http://www.start2farm.gov
The use of trade, firm, or corporation names in this publication (or page) is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the United States Department of Agriculture or the Agricultural Research Service of any product or service to the exclusion of others that maybe suitable.
1. Agribusiness Planning: Providing Direction for Agricultural Firms. Jeffrey Hyde, Sarah Roch. UA371. University Park: Penn State University Cooperative Extension, 2002. 12 p.
http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/freepubs/pdfs/ua371.pdf [PDF 255.48 KB]
2. Business Plan Preparation: Tools for Writing Business Plans. Stephen Lawrence, Frank Moyes. Boulder, CO: University of Colorado Leeds School of Business. http://leeds-faculty.colorado.edu/moyes/bplan/
3. Farm Business Plan Worksheet: Balance Sheet. FSA2037. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, 11-04-10. 4 p.
http://forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/efcommon/eFileServices/eForms/FSA2037.PDF [PDF 631.59KB]
4. Farm Business Plan Worksheet: Projected/Actual Income and Expense. FSA2038. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, 03-24-10. 2 p.
http://forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/efcommon/eFileServices/eForms/FSA2038.PDF [PDF 340.00KB]
5. Starting a Business. Washington, DC: U.S. Small Business Administration. http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business
1. Agricultural Income and Finance. (Annual reports) Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/MannUsda/viewDocumentInfo.do?documentID=1254
2. Exploring the Small Farm Dream: Is Starting an Agricultural Business Right for You? Belchertown, MA: Growing New Farmers Consortium.
3. Family Farming in the United States. James MacDonald. Amber Waves. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, March 4, 2014. 10p.
4. Farmers Market Consortium: Resource Guide Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service. Updated 2007.http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELDEV3100937&acct=frmrdirmkt [PDF file 1.01 MB]
5. Financing Small-Scale and Part-Time Farms. Gregory D. Hanson, Jayson K. Harper, George L. Greaser. University Park: Penn State University Cooperative Extension, 2004. 6 p. http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/freepubs/pdfs/ua409.pdf [PDF 261.50KB]
6. How to Finance a Small Farm. Karen Klonsky. Family Farm Series. Davis: University of California Small Farm Center, n.d. 6 p. http://sfp.ucdavis.edu/pubs/Family_Farm_Series/Farmmanage/finance/
7. Starting or Diversifying an Agricultural Business. Lynn F. Kime, Sarah A. Roth, Jayson K. Harper. UA401. University Park: Penn State University Cooperative Extension, 2004. 6 p.
http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/FreePubs/pdfs/ua401.pdf [PDF 532.72 KB]
8. Tip Sheet for Young and Beginning Farmers: How to Build Successful Financial Relationships. Washington, DC: ABA Center for Agricultural and Rural Banking, n.d. 1 p.
http://www.aba.com/Tools/Function/Documents/2116e7e5b35b45bf85c38f36685df582TipsheetforyoungandBeginningFarmers9996.pdf [PDF 13.97 KB]
9. Tools and Resources (to Help New Farmers). Belchertown, MA: Growing New Farmers Consortium. http://www.smallfarm.org/main/for_new_farmers/resources_by_topic/
Contacts for Technical Assistance: Both SBA and USDA provide small business planning technical assistance and USDA also provides technical farming specifics through the extensive network of USDA, Cooperative Extension Service (CES) specialists:
- Cooperative Extension Service State Specialists, http://www.nifa.usda.gov/qlinks/partners/state_part.html
- Cooperative Extension Service County Agents, http://www.nifa.usda.gov/Extension/index.html
- Small Business Development Centers,
You may want to start your financial assistance search with your state Department of Agriculture to see if your state has a Beginning Farmer Loan Program or other type of grants or loans for farming and ranching.
Locate Departments of Agriculture, by State, http://www.rma.usda.gov/other/stateag.html List by USDA Risk Management Agency.
- Types of state agricultural finance programs may be identified through your Council of State Agricultural Finance Programs. Check with your state agriculture department for programs, like Aggie Bonds.
Information on Farm Financial Management & Performance can be located on the USDA's Economic Research Service web site.
- Farm Economy, http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/farm-economy.aspx
- Rural Economy & Population, http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/rural-economy-population.aspx
Farm Banks: The nation's farm banks (defined by the Federal Reserve Board as banks that have above average proportions of farm real estate and production loans in their loan portfolios) offer a variety of loans to small and large farms and agribusiness firms; they also handle many of the loans made under USDA's guaranteed farm loan programs.
- American Bankers Association: Agriculture Banking. ABA has a "special section dedicated to providing advocacy, information, training, education, and public relations for banks that make and service agricultural loans or provide credit and other financial services to those living and working in rural America for nearly 100 years." http://www.aba.com/Tools/BankType/Ag/Pages/default.aspx
Farm Credit System (FCS): The FCS is a network of federally chartered borrower-owned lending institutions and related service organizations that specialize in providing credit and related services to farmers (also young and beginning), ranchers, and producers or harvesters of aquatic products. Additional information about the FCS is available from the Farm Credit Administration at http://www.fca.gov/info/ybs.html
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
USDA, Farm Service Agency, Farm Programs:
- Farm Loan Program Information, http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=fmlp&topic=landing
- Loans for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers, http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=fmlp&topic=bfl
- Minority and Women Farmers and Ranchers, http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=fmlp&topic=sdl
- Microloans, http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=fmlp&topic=dflop
- Locate Farm/Ranch Properties for Sale: http://www.resales.usda.gov/resales/index.jsp
For all programs above:
- Locate Farm Service Agency Offices, by State: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=us&agency=fsa
USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Financial Assistance Programs, http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/
- Locate Natural Resources Conservation Service Offices, by State: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?agency=nrcs
USDA, Rural Development
- Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program, http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-energy-america-program-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency
- Value-Added Agricultural Product Marketing Development Grants, http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/value-added-producer-grants
- Small Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grant, http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/small-socially-disadvantaged-producer-grant
For all programs above:
- Locate Rural Development Offices, by State: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=us&agency=rd
USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture
- Grant Searchable Database for Research in Agriculture, http://www.nifa.usda.gov/fo/funding.cfm
- Family and Small Farms http://www.nifa.usda.gov/familysmallfarms.cfm
- Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Programs (SARE), http://www.sare.org/Grants/
- Use the Alternative Farming Systems Information Center to assist with your research: http://afsic.nal.usda.gov
USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service
- Farmers Market Promotion Program, http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplateData.do?template=TemplateN&navID=WholesaleandFarmersMarkets&leftNav=
- Specialty Crop Block Grant, http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplateData.do?template=TemplateN&rightNav1=SpecialtyCropBlockGrant0Program&topNav=&leftNav=CommodityAreas&page=SCBGP&resultType
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- National Agriculture Compliance Center 1-888-663-2155: http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/agctr.html
- Animals: http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/animals.html
- Crops: http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/crops.html
- Forestry: http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/forestry.html
- Nurseries & Greenhouses: http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/nurgreen.html
- USDA, Office of Advocacy and Outreach: Information for Veterans, http://www.outreach.usda.gov/veterans.htm
- Veteran Affairs, Farm Loans: Home Loans for Rural Residents, http://www.benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/factsheets/homeloans/FarmLoans.pdf [PDF 415.25KB]
- Farmer Veteran Coalition, http://www.farmvetco.org/
- Veteran Farmers Project from the Center for Rural Affairs, http://www.cfra.org/veteran_farmers_project
- Veterans to Farmers, http://veteranstofarmers.org/
- USDA, Risk Management Agency, http://www.rma.usda.gov
- USDA Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery. http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=Emergency_Preparedness_and_Response.html
- Disaster Assistance. USDA, Farm Service Agency.
- Disaster Assistance for Agricultural Producers. ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service http://attra.ncat.org/disaster.html
- Farm Aid. 1-800-FARM AID http://www.farmaid.org/
- Farm Animals: Disaster Planning. USDA, NAL, Animal Welfare Information Center.
- Find Disaster Assistance. USDA, Rural Information Center. http://ric.nal.usda.gov/find-disaster-assistance-0
- Getting Through Tough Financial Times. University of Illinois Extension Service. http://web.extension.illinois.edu/toughtimes/
ABA Agricultural Banking
Washington, DC: American Bankers Association.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska.
Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
Beltsville, MD: U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library.
ATTRA, National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service
Begin Farming Ohio
Columbus, OH: Public-Private Collaborative.
East Lansing: Michigan State University.
Center for Farm Financial Management
St. Paul: University of Minnesota.
Greenwood Village, CO.
Growing Small Farms
Pittsboro: North Carolina Cooperative Extension.
Links for New Farmers
Manoa: University of Hawaii.
National Ag Risk Education Library
St. Paul: University of Minnesota.
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
New England Small Farm Institute
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Northeast Beginning Farmers Project
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, Small Farm Program, Cooperative Extension Service.
Oregon Small Farms
Corvallis: Oregon State University Extension Service.
Small Farm Program
Davis: University of California.
Small Farms Team
Puyallup: Washington State University.
Beltsville, MD: National Agricultural Library.
Women's Agricultural Network
Burlington: University of Vermont.
USDA, Rural Information Center
National Agricultural Library
10301 Baltimore Ave., Room 123
Beltsville, MD 20705-2351