How to Start a Farm: Visit Your USDA Service Center

After creating a business plan, you'll be ready to start talking with staff at your local USDA Service Center. They can meet with you one-on-one to help identify USDA programs that will meet the needs of your operation.

Keep reading about meeting with your local USDA Service Center staff below, get an overview of the beginning farmer's journey, or jump to a different section of the farmer's journey.

How USDA Service Centers Can Help

USDA Service Centers are offices where you can meet with Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff to discuss your vision, goals, and ways USDA can help. Service center staff can guide you through the process of preparing and submitting required paperwork, with no need to hire a paid preparer.

If you are applying for a loan, your FSA loan officer will review your business plan and assist you in translating your plan and farm vision to your application or they can refer you to an advisor in your area who has experience in helping new farmers and ranchers.

Language translation service is also available in all USDA Service Centers, so one-on-one assistance with a service center employee can be translated in real time.

Farm Service Agency

FSA provides disaster assistance, safety net, farm loan, and conservation programs and is the go-to agency for many USDA records. If you’re new to working with USDA, your FSA team member will help you register your farm with a farm number. Depending on what you raise or grow, filling out your crop acreage report each season can ensure you’re eligible for many programs and allows you to vote in county FSA elections. These services are free.

Natural Resources Conservation Service

NRCS provides financial and technical assistance for voluntary conservation programs. Your NRCS team member will ask about your goals for your land and can help you develop a conservation plan and file an application for the wide range of NRCS programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Your Service Center Visit

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Before Your Visit

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Make an appointment. These 30-60 minute appointments with your local Service Center ensure quick service, especially at busy times around program sign-up and reporting deadlines. 

Prepare. During your call, ask what documents are needed to help to make the most of your appointment. If you own land, bring a copy of your deed and plat, if possible. If you lease land, bring a copy of your lease agreement.

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During Your Visit

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Discuss your operation. Based on your farm business plan, we can help you navigate the process of registering your farm to get access to USDA programs and assistance. By understanding your specific vision and challenges, our Service Center staff can recommend programs and resources best suited for your operation.

If you already have land, register for a farm number to participate in USDA programs. With a farm number you can apply for FSA farm loans, disaster assistance, and crop insurance as well as for conservation programs through NRCS.

Sign up for email or text updates. This will help you stay informed about program signups or deadlines.

Next Steps

As a beginning farmer or rancher, access to land and capital is probably one of your biggest needs. Whether it’s to purchase property or equipment, or to meet operating costs, USDA offers a variety of programs and resources that can help you.

3. Get Funding For your farm operation

How to Start a Farm with USDA

Get an overview of the beginning farmer's journey or jump to a specific page below.

Find Your Local Service Center

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Los Centros de Servicio de USDA son lugares donde usted podrá contactarse con la Agencia de Servicios Agrícolas (FSA), el Servicio de Conservación de Recursos Naturales (NRCS), o empleados de Desarrollo Rural para discutir las necesidades de su negocio. Ingrese el estado y condado donde vive en el buscador para encontrar el Centro de Servicio más cercano y las oficinas de las agencias mencionadas. Si este buscador no funciona en su navegador web, por favor visite la página

Visite la página web de la Agencia de Gestión de Riesgos (RMA) para encontrar una oficina regional o de cumplimiento o para encontrar al agente de seguros más cercano.

Para obtener material traducido en español, revise nuestra página web de Traducciones, busque su centro de servicio local o informe a un empleado.