Financing Resources

Finding financing for a small farm is one of the most challenging obstacles for agricultural entrepreneurs. The following resources include traditional and creative ways to finance your farm, as well as pointers for preparing a successful loan application.

Government and Bank Loans for Farms

Farm Service Agency (FSA) — The US Farm Service Agency makes many types of direct and guaranteed farm-ownership and operating loans to family-size farmers and ranchers. (read more)

FSA Microloans — ‘Microloans’ of up to $35,000 for operating costs are now available for ‘small, beginning farmer, niche and non-traditional farm operations (read more)

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Loans – Many FSA loan programs have funds set aside specifically to help beginning farmers and ranchers, which means those who have owned or operated a farm or ranch for fewer than 10 years, or that own and operate a small farm or ranch that is less than 30% of median county farm size for the county they are located in. (link)

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans and Grants — For assistance in the purchase and installation of on-farm and rural renewable energy generating systems or energy efficiency improvements. (link)

Northwest Farm Credit Services (FCS) — NW Farm Credit Services specializes in loans to farmers and ranchers for farm ownership and operating costs. (read more)

Community Banks and Credit Unions – A number of smaller community banks and credit unions make loans for farms and farming operations and serve particular regions. (read more)

Oregon ‘Aggie Bonds’ Beginning and Expanding Farmer Loan Program – This program is an interest rate reduction program for beginning farmers that can provide significantly lower interest rates on farm and equipment ownership loans. Administered by Business Oregon, a state agency, involvement from a participating lender, like NW Farm Credit Services or another bank, is required. (link)

In addition to the Aggie Bonds program, Business Oregon administers a number of other loan program for small business that food and agricultural entrepreneurs might be able to use (read more)

Non-Traditional Financing and Loans

A number of non-traditional financing options for farm and food businesses exist. Here are a few that might provide opportunities for Oregon farmers:

Oregon has a Community Public Offering tool available to food and agriculture businesses to raise up to $250,000 by crowdsourcing small loans from Oregon residents. (link)

Harvest Capital – A Northwest agricultural real estate lender that can help finance the purchase of agricultural properties, farms, ranches, buildings and improvements, and consolidate existing debt. (link)

Craft 3 — Statewide lending and business assistance to entrepreneurs who don’t normally have access to financing, including for rural, agriculture and food businesses. (link)

Community Lending Works — Lending work includes small loans and technical assistance to small agricultural businesses (link)

Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) – IDAs are matched savings accounts available for lower income individuals and small business owners to assist with equipment purchases, working capital and more. (read more)

Small Business Administration (SBA) Microloans — SBA provides short-term microloans of up to $50,000 to small businesses through intermediary lenders. Loans may be used for working capital, inventory, supplies, machinery and/or equipment. (link)

Equity Trust makes loans up to $150,000 that: assist in the permanent protection of land and/or buildings for agriculture; support the economic vitality of CSA farms; directly or indirectly enable land reform and promote alternative ownership models. (link)

Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (OAME) offers microloans for minority owned small businesses (link)

Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO) offers loans of up to $50,000 for equipment and working capital for small businesses in parts of Oregon (link)

MercyCorps Northwest — Provides loans from $500 to $50,000 for small businesses in Oregon and Washington that may not qualify for traditional loans. (link)

Whole Foods Local Producer Loan Program — Whole Foods Market offers loans between $1,000 and $100,000 for small, local, independent producers to help them expand their businesses (link)

Prosper is an online community marketplace for peer-to-peer lending without a middleman. Prosper offers fixed rate, unsecured loans from $2,000 to $35,000 with terms of 3 or 5 years (link)

Funding Circle is an online marketplace where people lend to businesses (link)

A variety of online funding platforms exist for creative projects (read more)

Slow Money is an investment movement inspired by the Slow Food movement. (read more)

Accion — a nationwide nonprofit micro and small business lending network (link)

RSF Social Finance — Provides loans for food and agriculture businesses involved in sustainable agriculture and local food systems (link)

Pinnacle Business Financing — Loans for new and used farm equipment (link)

Other Resources

Oregon State University’s Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management online course is aimed at those in their first five years of farming and can help with everything from business planning to farm management (link)

Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) provides grants in several categories. Each of these grants is available at specific times of the year (link)

The book Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses provides a wealth of information for small farm business planning (link)

NW Farm Credit Services 2014 presentation at the OSU Small Farms Conference on how farm lending works and how to use their programs: OR-Small-Farms-Conference-2014 (link)

How to Finance a Small Farm — UC Davis Extension publication includes what materials to prepare, what questions to ask, and what questions to be prepared to answer when speaking with the banker. (link)

Financing Your Farm: Guidance for Beginning Farmers (2011)- ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture publication (link)

Guide to Financing the Community Supported Farm — a resource from the University of Vermont’s New Farmer Project on innovative small farm financing strategies (link)

Small Farm Funding Resources from the USDA’s National Agricultural Library (link)

Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) across Oregon can help with business planning, counseling and help connect you to resources. Find your local office through the Oregon SBDC Network (link)

Friends of Family Farmers provides these resources solely for educational purposes. Friends of Family Farmers neither favors nor endorses any of the organizations listed on this website, nor are they responsible for any incorrect information that is listed on the hyperlinked external sites.

Resource Categories

Search Resource Library