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Small Farm Funding Guide

This guide contains information about issues to consider before starting a farming operation. 

Find links to full-text guides on how to start a small farm business and develop business and marketing plans.  Identify information about funding programs for beginning and experienced farmers, technical assistance contacts, disaster assistance, and organizations with available resources.

Farm Business Planning

Develop a Farm Business Plan
  1. Agribusiness Planning: Providing Direction for Agricultural Firms []

    Jeffrey Hyde, Sarah Roch. University Park: Penn State University Cooperative Extension. Updated 2017
  2. Business Development

  3. Business Guide

    U.S. Small Business Administration
  4. Guide to Farming: Business Plans

    Cornell University. Small Farms Program
  5. Organic Transition: A Business Planner for Farmers, Ranchers and Food Entrepreneurs

    Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)
  6. Urban Farm Business Plan Handbook

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  7. Your Farm’s Business Plan

Financial and Planning Resources
  1. Farm Sector Income and Finances (publications). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  2. Exploring the Small Farm Dream. Belchertown, MA: New England Small Farm Institute.
  3. Family Farming in the United States. James MacDonald. Amber Waves. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, March 4, 2014.
  4. National Farmers Markets Directory Search. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service. Updated 2022.
  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. Small Farm Handbook. 2nd Edition. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. 2011.
  7. Starting or Diversifying an Agricultural Business. Lynne F. Kime, Sarah A. Cornelisse, Jayson K. Harper. University Park: Penn State Small-scale and Part-time Farming Project. Updated 2018. [2005 online; download 2018 edition.]
  8. Business Structure for Small Farms: A Quick Guide. [] Issued by Washington State University Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015. [PDF 1.75 MB]
  9. Resources by Topic for 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.

  1. Cooperative Research and Extension Services
  2. Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)
Agriculture Disaster Assistance


  1. United States Department of Agriculture
  2. Disaster Assistance for Agricultural Producers

    ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service


  3. Farm Aid 1-800-FARM AID

Research Funding
  1. Small and Family Farms

    USDA. National Institute of Food and Agriculture

  2. Grants

    USDA. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program

Funding and Program Assistance

State Programs, Agricultural Lenders, and Farm Banks

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.

  • National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) is comprised of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • 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 USDA's guaranteed farm loan programs.

  • American Bankers Association: Agriculture Banking (ABA). [] 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: Farm Credit is a nationwide network of 70 customer-owned financial institutions across all 50 states and Puerto Rico and provides loans and related financial services to U.S. farmers and ranchers, farmer-owned cooperatives and other agribusinesses, rural homebuyers and rural infrastructure providers.​

Programs for Veterans

Information and Contacts

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