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. http://www.start2farm.gov
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. For more information about National Agricultural Library Policy and Disclaimers
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
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
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
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. 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
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
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/Solutions/Documents/2116e7e5b35b45bf85c38f36685df582TipsheetforyoungandBeginningFarmers9996.pdf
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
Addtional U.S. EPA Agriculture Programs
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.