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Financial Resources for Individual Farmers and Ranchers

At a Glance: Highlighted Financial Programs Throughout USDA

The information provided is to assist you in identifying USDA programs that may be of particular interest to small and beginning farmers and ranchers as well as socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. This is not an exhaustive list, and we encourage you to notify us of any links that you think should be added by e-mailing us at AdvocacyandOutreach@osec.usda.gov.

For programs available to not-for-profit organizations and groups of farmers and ranchers at click here.

Summaries for each of the below listed financial programs and thier corresponding agencies is provided in the following section.

Farm Service Agency (FSA)

Forest Service (FS)

National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)

Federal Wide Loan and Grant Resources

About USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA)

The FSA makes and guarantees loans to family farmers and ranchers to promote, build, and sustain family farms in support of a thriving agricultural economy. FSA maintains its headquarters in Washington, DC, with offices located in each state, usually in a state capital or near a state land-grant university, as well as in most agriculturally productive counties. Farmers may apply for direct loans at local FSA offices. Guaranteed loans may be available from local commercial lenders who apply for loan guarantees from FSA. Although general information may be obtained from headquarters and state offices, all programs are administered through local offices.

The goal of FSA's farm loan programs is to graduate its borrowers to commercial credit. Once a farmer is able to obtain credit from the commercial lending sector, the Agency's mission of providing temporary, supervised credit is complete.

 

Loans for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

A beginning farmer is an individual or entity who (1) has not operated a farm for more than 10 years; (2) meets the loan eligibility requirements of the program to which he/she is applying; (3) substantially participates in the operation; and, (4) for FO purposes, does not own a farm greater than 30 percent of the median size farm in the county. (Note: all applicants for direct FO loans must have participated in the business operation of a farm for at least 3 years.) If the applicant is an entity, all members must be related by blood or marriage, and all members in a corporation must be eligible beginning farmers.

 

Farm Loans Programs (FLP)

Type: Direct loans and guaranteed loans

Big idea: USDA provides loans to farmers and ranchers through local Farm Service Agency county offices, and also works with local banks to provide a government guarantee for farm loans made by those financial institutions to farmers and ranchers.

Who can apply: Farmers and ranchers (including individuals, cooperatives, joint operations, corporations, and partnerships) who are unable to obtain financing from commercial lending sources can apply for direct and guaranteed loans. Direct loans are provided by the government to the farmer or rancher, and guaranteed loans are provided by a local bank with a guarantee from USDA. Funds are available to beginning farmers and ranchers who have been in business for less than ten years and are family-sized farmers. Funds are also available to women, African Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders who are farming or entering into farming. FSA also makes Youth Loans of up to $5,000 to help young people work on an agricultural project in conjunction with local farm organizations.

Possibilities: USDA Farm Loans offer direct and guaranteed loans to:

  • Purchase land;
  • Construct or re-furbish buildings;
  • Purchase equipment or livestock;
  • Establish permanent crops, or finance the costs of annual crops.

Get more information: To apply for any USDA FSA program contact your state or local office here.

 

Farm Storage Facility Loans (FSFL)

Type: Direct loans

Big idea: Farm Storage Facility Loans finance the purchase, construction, or refurbishment of farm storage facilities. This program finances new cold storage buildings, which can be particularly important to those growing fruits and vegetables for the fresh market.

Who can apply: A landowner, leaseholder, tenant or sharecropper that produces eligible commodities, including fresh fruits and vegetables

Possibilities: Farm Storage Facility Loans can be used to finance:

  • New cold storage buildings, including prefabricated buildings, suitable for storing fruits and vegetables and having a useful life of at least 15 years; also may include permanently affixed cooling, circulating, and monitoring equipment;
  • New concrete foundations, aprons, pits, and pads, including site preparation, labor and material;
  • New structures suitable for storing hay;
  • New conventional cribs or bins designed for whole grain storage.

Get more information: To apply for any USDA FSA program contact your state or local office here.

 

Transition Incentives Program (TIP)

This program is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA).  It applies to farmers and ranchers who participate in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)  and are nearing retirement. Through financial incentives, these farmers are encouraged to sell or lease their land to beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers.

To apply: Contact your local FSA Office or www.fsa.usda.gov

 

About USDA Forest Service (FS)

USDA Forest Service's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

Get creative - Leverage Forest Service Programs. Did you know that the FS may have programs for you?

 

About USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

NIFA's unique mission is to advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations. NIFA doesn't perform actual research, education, and extension but rather helps fund such activities at the state and local level and provides program leadership in these areas.

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)

Type: Competitive grants

Big idea: The mission of the SARE program is to advance sustainable innovations in American agriculture. SARE is uniquely grassroots, administered by four regional offices guided by administrative councils of local experts. The following types of grants are offered through SARE:

  • Research and Education Grants: Ranging from $10,000 to $200,000 or more, these grants fund projects that usually involve scientists, producers, and others in an interdisciplinary approach;
  • Professional Development Grants: Ranging from $20,000 to $120,000, these grants spread the knowledge about sustainable concepts and practices by educating Cooperative Extension Service staff and other agricultural professionals;
  • Producer Grants: Producer grants typically run between $1,000 and $15,000 to conduct research, marketing and demonstration projects and share the results with other farmers and ranchers;
  • Other grant types in some regions.

Who can apply: Non-profit organizations, researchers and individual producers

Get more information: Sharing project results is a cornerstone of the SARE program, with field days, workshops and conferences in every region and an ever-growing library of books, bulletins, online resources and profiles of SARE grantees.

 

About USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)

NRCS works with landowners through conservation planning and assistance to benefit the soil, water, air, plants, and animals for productive lands and healthy ecosystems. Working at the local level - in field offices at USDA Service Centers in nearly every county in the nation - NRCS employees’ understanding of local resource concerns and challenges result in conservation solutions that last. Seventy percent of the land in the United States is privately owned, making stewardship by private landowners absolutely critical to the health of our Nation’s environment.

 

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

Type: Cost-share

Big Idea: The Conservation Stewardship Program helps producers carry out activities that conserve or improve the quality of natural resources on their land, such as soil, water, air and wildlife. The program shares the costs of implementing existing or new conservation activities in a comprehensive manner. The sale of “locally grown and marketed farm products” is considered a conservation enhancement under this program.

Who can apply: Owners or operators of agricultural lands

Possibilities: The program has 97 individual enhancements including:

  • The sale of locally grown and marketed farm products;
  • Transitioning to organic production and certification;
  • Conducting on-farm energy audits;
  • Establishing pollinator habitat.

Get more information: To apply for any USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service program, contact your state or local office here.

 

Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA)

Type: Technical assistance

Big idea: Conservation Technical Assistance helps individuals manage natural resources such as soil, water, and wildlife. This program provides a broad array of assistance, including the conservation planning that must occur before an application for financial assistance from another program is approved, and technical assistance to help individuals comply with regulatory requirements.

Who can apply: No application is necessary; CTA delivers assistance as needed to a broad array of customers- landowners, conservation districts, Tribes, States, local jurisdictions, and others.

Possibilities: The NRCS experts available through CTA can provide a comprehensive assessment of the natural resource challenges and opportunities, as well as possible solutions to resource issues. They can then recommend sources of funding and additional expertise available from NRCS or their partners.

Get more information: To apply for any USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service program contact your state or local office here.

 

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Type: Cost-share and technical assistance

Big idea: The Environmental Quality Incentives Program assists farmers and ranchers in planning and implementing conservation practices that improve the natural resources (e.g. soil, water, wildlife) on their agricultural land and forestland. A practice supported through EQIP is the installation of seasonal high tunnels (also known as hoop houses), which are unheated greenhouses that can extend a producer’s growing season while conserving resources.

In addition, EQIP can help producers transition to organic production or help those growers already certified maintain their certification. USDA has allocated $50 million specifically for certified organic producers or those in the process of transitioning to organic production systems.

Who can apply: Owners and operators of agricultural lands

Possibilities: EQIP provides cost-share and technical assistance for a broad range of conservation practices, including:

  • Developing conservation plans;
  • Installing high tunnels;
  • Transitioning and practicing organic standards;
  • Conserving energy;
  • Managing forest lands.

Get more information: To find out more about the seasonal high tunnel practice click here, and for the Organic Initiative click here. To apply for any USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service program contact your state or local office here.

 

Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP)

Type: Cost-share

Big idea: The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program’s purpose is to keep agricultural lands in production, and does so by assisting with the purchase of conservation easements from volunteer landowners. These easements ensure that the land will never be developed out of agricultural uses and provide income for landowners.

Who can apply: USDA partners with State, Tribal, or local governments or farm land protection programs to acquire conservation easements from landowners working through existing farm land preservation programs. Owners of certain agricultural lands, subject to income limitations, apply through these State, Tribal and local entities.

Possibilities: The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program is a great example of how the USDA is protecting natural resources and encouraging smart growth while supporting local farmers and local food systems. In addition to farm and ranch lands, forest land that contributes to the economic viability of - or serves as a buffer to protect - an agricultural operation may also qualify under this program.

Get more information: To apply for any USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service program contact your state or local office here.

 

About USDA Rural Development (RD)

RD financial programs support such essential public facilities and services as water and sewer systems, housing, health clinics, emergency service facilities and electric and telephone service. RD promotes economic development by supporting loans to businesses through banks, credit unions and community-managed lending pools. RD offers technical assistance and information to help agricultural producers and cooperatives get started and improve the effectiveness of their operations. RD provides technical assistance to help communities undertake community empowerment programs.

Program assistance is provided in many ways, including direct or guaranteed loans, grants, technical assistance, research and educational materials. Visit the following sites for information and/or assistance.

 

Federal Wide Loan and Grant Resources

Find Government Grants and Loans for Individuals
A resource developed by FSA to assist you in finding Grant and Loan Opportunities in a variety of areas.

Benefits.gov
Benefits.gov is the official benefits website of the U.S. government. The site informs citizens of benefits they may be eligible for and provides information on how to apply for assistance. Click here to learn about FREE MONEY and GRANTS