In local communities nationwide, USDA and partners support farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners with the complex business of doing business. Explore USDA programs and resources below for managing risk, workers, products, and your land.
Start with the Basics
Visit the US Small Business Administration’s website for an end-to-end business guide, and then check out the extensive library on Farm Answers for business resources specific to the agriculture industry. Find agricultural information about your state on the National Association of State Agriculture’s website.
Enroll in risk management programs to prepare for and recover from the unexpected.
USDA provides crop insurance for producers through the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation. Visit USDA Risk Management Agency’s website for crop insurance information and use the Agent Locator to find a crop insurance agent near you.
The USDA Farm Service Agency's Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program or NAP helps producers to manage risk through coverage for both crop losses and crop planting that was prevented due to natural disasters. The eligible or “noninsured” crops include agricultural commodities not covered by federal crop insurance.
Producers must be enrolled in the program and have purchased coverage for the eligible crop in the crop year in which the loss incurred to receive program benefits following a qualifying natural disaster.
Market Risk Programs
The Dairy Margin Protection Program, a voluntary program managed by USDA Farm Service Agency, provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the difference between the price of milk and feed costs falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer. Estimate your coverage needs with USDA’s Margin Protection Program tool.
Through Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage, USDA Farm Service Agency offers financial assistance to producers of major row crops when either commodity prices or revenues are below certain levels.
USDA Risk Management Agency provides several livestock insurance policy options for your business.
Visit the Ag Risk and Farm Management Library, regional extension risk-management education centers, and the USDA Risk Management Agency website to learn more about risk management.
Market Facilitation Program
Are you a farmer or rancher whose commodities have been directly impacted by unjustified foreign retaliatory tariffs, resulting in the loss of traditional export markets?
The Market Facilitation Program or MFP – administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency – provides direct payments to eligible producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy, hogs, shelled almonds, and fresh sweet cherries. Producers who filed applications have until May 31 to certify 2018 production.
Visit the Market Facilitation Program page to learn more.
Find resources for hiring and managing agricultural workers, including an interactive H-2A Visa Checklist built around your hiring needs.
H-2A Visa Program
Are you a farmer who needs seasonal or temporary workers for planting, cultivating, and harvesting crops but domestic workers are in short supply?
The H-2A temporary agricultural workers program – often called the H-2A visa program - helps American farmers fill employment gaps by hiring workers from other countries.
Learn about hiring agricultural workers through the H-2A Visa Program.
Occupational Health and Safety
Find health and safety requirements and resources for employees on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s website.
Find your local office through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s interactive map.
Federal Labor Laws
The US Department of Labor administers laws that protect several types of farm workers, including:
Create Your H-2A Visa Checklist
Answer a few short questions to create your personalized H-2A visa checklist for hiring temporary agricultural workers from other countries.
Manage your crops, animals, and other products strategically through USDA programs, information, and tools.
Plan your crop planting, harvesting, and management in between with USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Usual Planting and Harvesting Dates for US Field Crops information and the Fieldprint® Calculator for corn, cotton, rice, wheat, potato, and soybean growers, provided by Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture.
Time to report crop acreage? Submit some common acreage information just once – either to the local USDA Farm Service Agency or participating crop insurance agent – through the Acreage Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative.
Whether you manage beef or dairy cattle, sheep, or horses, good forage offers the key to success. Check out these resources to maximize your forage potential:
- Society for Range Management resources for land managers, scientists, educators and students, producers, and conservationists
- Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable, including the Ranch Sustainability Assessment Framework and Guidebook
Face the unique management challenges of animal feeding operations with a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan.
Visit the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s website for information about animal diseases. And explore One Health, a collaborative effort of the human health, veterinary health, and environmental health communities.
Manage Your Land and Resources
Get started here and then learn about conservation financial and technical assistance under our farmers.gov Conserve section.
For many USDA Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Risk Management Agency programs, land owners must comply with highly erodible lands and wetlands requirements. Get started with these 5 Steps to Meet Conservation Compliance.
Cut input costs, maintain production, protect natural resources, and save money through on-farm energy efficiency programs and tools, including USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s energy estimating tools and USDA Rural Development’s Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans and Grants.
Market Your Products
From food hubs to economic trends, USDA agencies offer valuable information about global, national, and local market trends and food networks.
Standards and Certifications
Browse the short list of popular resources below. Visit the USDA website for a full list of agencies and services.
Auditing and Accreditation services – provided by USDA Agricultural Marketing Service – are recognized nationally and internationally, assuring customers of consistent quality products or services and offering producers a unique way to market their products.
USDA's National Organic Program offers Organic Certification that allows a farm or processing facility to sell, label and represent their products as organic. Visit the USDA website for a full list of agencies and resources.
USDA Certification for Small and Very Small Producers of grass-fed beef addresses the needs of small-scale livestock producers and the growing grass-fed beef industry.
USDA's Local Food Directories help consumers locate farmers markets, on-farm markets, CSAs, and food hubs. Managers and owners of local food entities are invited to enter and/or update their business information in the directories.
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Compass Map offers a visual and searchable list of local and regional food sources and resources, including farmers markets, food hubs, and meat processors.
Selling Food to USDA
Learn about selling food to USDA. USDA Agricultural Marketing Service purchases a variety of 100% domestically produced and processed commodity food products. The wholesome, high-quality products purchased by USDA—collectively called USDA Foods—are delivered to schools, food banks, and households in communities across the country.
Economic Trends in Agriculture
Track agricultural economics that affect land and products through:
Plan for the Future
Are you looking to retire your land or hand it down to family? Head on over to our Conserve page to explore your options. Or consider the USDA Farm Service Agency’s Transition Incentive Program or TIP that connects retired or retiring land owners and operators with beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers.
Have more questions than answers about farm transition?
Visit your local USDA service center to discuss your options with a local employee.