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Small Farm Funding Resources

Two baskets of red apples at a Farmers Market. (iStock)
​Rural Information Center (U.S.) Beltsville, MD: USDA, National Agricultural Library, Rural Information Center, [2014] Rev. Updated by Mary Louise Reynnells. May, 2016. Original edition: September 2005 by Patricia La Caille John. Internet -resource:

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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: and the New Farmers Discovery Tool:  

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.  

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.

2. Business Plan Preparation: Tools for Writing Business Plans. Stephen Lawrence, Frank Moyes. Boulder, CO: University of Colorado Leeds School of Business.

3. Farm Business Plan Worksheet: Balance Sheet. FSA2037. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, 11-04-10. 4 p. [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. [PDF 340.00KB]

5. Starting a Business. Washington, DC: U.S. Small Business Administration.  

Financial and Planning Resources

1. Agricultural Income and Finance. (Annual reports) Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.

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 Markets Directory Search Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service. Updated 2015.

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.

6. How to Finance a Small Farm. Karen Klonsky. Family Farm Series. Davis: University of California Small Farm Center, n.d. 6 p.

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.

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. [PDF 13.97 KB]

9. Tools and Resources (to Help New Farmers). Belchertown, MA: Growing New Farmers Consortium.

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

State Programs 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, 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.

Agricultural Lenders 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 USDAs 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."

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

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

USDA, Farm Service Agency, Farm Programs:

USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service

USDA, Rural Development

USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Veteran Resources

Agriculture Disaster Assistance

Organizations and Web Sites

USDA, Rural Information Center
National Agricultural Library
10301 Baltimore Ave., Room 123
Beltsville, MD 20705-2351