Small Farm Funding Resources
The source for the image on the right is USDA.
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 sources for beginning farmers, training, technical assistance contacts, organizations with resources and programs for beginning and experienced farmers, and more.
You may also want to consult a Start2Farm.Gov Online Clearinghouse, a service of the National Agricultural Library.
Start2Farm.Gov is a Project of the The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) which is administered by the USDA, National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA). This program was authorized in the 2008 Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (Pub .L. No. 110-234, Section 7410,) amending Section 7405 of the previousFarm Bill. The purpose and priorities for the BFRDP are to provide U.S. beginning farmer and rancher producers and their families, as appropriate, with the knowledge, skills and tools needed to make informed decisions for their operations, with the goal of enhancing success of beginning farmers and ranchers.
The Small Farm Funding Resource online guide was developed by Patricia LaCaille John, September 2005; Last modified: July 2012
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.
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Developing a Farm Business Plan
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. FAS2037. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, 2005. 4 p. http://forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/efcommon/eFileServices/Forms/FSA2037_050118V01.pdf [PDF 560.45 KB]
4. Farm Business Plan Worksheet: Projected/Actual Income and Expense. FSA2038. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, 2005. 2 p. http://forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/efcommon/eFileServices/Forms/FSA2038_050118V02.pdf [PDF 314.81KB]
5. Starting a Business. Washington, DC: U.S. Small Business Administration. http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business
Financial and Planning Resources
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. Characteristics and Risk Management Needs of Limited-Resource and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers. Robert Dismukes, Joy L. Harwood, Susan E. Bentley. Agriculture Information Bulletin A1B733. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 1997. 104 p.http://webarchives.cdlib.org/sw1vh5dg3r/http://ers.usda.gov/Publications/AIB733/ )
3. Determinants of Financial Performance of Commercial Dairy Farms. Hisham S. El-Osta, James D. Johnson. Technical Bulletin 1859. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 1998. 42 p. http://webarchives.cdlib.org/sw15d8pg7m/http://ers.usda.gov/Publications/TB1859/
4. Exploring the Small Farm Dream: Is Starting an Agricultural Business Right for You? Belchertown, MA: Growing New Farmers Consortium. http://www.smallfarm.org/main/for_new_farmers/exploring_the_small_farm_dream
5. 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
6. 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]
7. Financing the Farm Operation. Phillip L Kunkel, Scott T. Larison. FS-02589. St. Paul, University of Minnesota Extension Service, 1998. http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/businessmanagement/DF2589.html
8. 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/
9. 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]
10. Structural and Financial Characteristics of U.S. Farms: 2004 Family Farm Report. David E. Banker, James M. MacDonald, editors. Agriculture Information Bulletin AIB797. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 2005. 87 p. http://webarchives.cdlib.org/sw15d8pg7m/http://ers.usda.gov/publications/aib797/
11. 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]
12. 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:
Funding and Program Assistance
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. USDA Risk Management Agency.http://www.rma.usda.gov/other/stateag.html
- Types of State Agricultural Finance Programs. National Council of State Agricultural Finance Programs. http://www.stateagfinance.org/ Program types and a Directory of State Programs on this site.
Information on Farm Financial Management & Performance
can be located on the USDA's Economic Research Service web site.
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: Agriculure 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/Solutions/AgBanking/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/FCS-Institutions.htm
- Locate Farm Credit System Lenders:
USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA): The FSA provides a variety of farm loan programs, including traditional operating loans, beginning farmer and youth programs. FSA also includes a mediation program for agricultural disputes.
Agriculture Disaster Assistance
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.
Getting Through Tough Financial Times. University of Illinois Extension Service. http://web.extension.illinois.edu/toughtimes/
Organizations and Web Sites
ABA Agricultural Banking
Washington, DC: American Bankers Association.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska.
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.
National Ag Risk Education Library
St. Paul: University of Minnesota.
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
New England Small Farm Institute
Links for New Farmers
Manoa: University of Hawaii.
Oregon Small Farms
Corvallis: Oregon State University Extension Service.
Small Farm Program
Davis: University of California
Small Farms Team
Puyallup: Washington State University.
Women's Agricultural Network
Burlington: University of Vermont.
USDA, Rural Information Center
National Agricultural Library
10301 Baltimore Ave.,Room 123
Beltsville, MD 20705-2351