How to Start a Farm: Find Land and Fund Your Operation

Finding land and money for your business can be tough, but USDA has been helping new producers for decades. As a new farmer or rancher, access to land and access to capital are probably your biggest challenges. Whether you are looking for a small amount of funding to acquire a few basic pieces of equipment, need a larger chunk of money to invest in scaling up your operation, or need financing to acquire land and infrastructure, USDA has a variety of loans and resources that can help you.

Keep reading about finding land and capital below, get an overview of the beginning farmer's journey, or jump to a different section of the farmer's journey.

Plan Before You Fund

The first and most critical step to obtaining financing is a good business plan. If you haven’t done so already, follow our guidance on writing a business plan to build your own. Once you have a business plan, visit your local service center to learn about financing options through USDA.

Finding Land

You will need land to grow your business. You may choose to lease, rent, or purchase land. You may also be interested in a creative approach to growing space—such as container farming, aquaponics, or rooftop farming. USDA has resources for all types of farmers!

If you’re inheriting land and unsure on how to move forward, visit our Heirs’ Property Landowners page for more information on how to navigate this process.

Considerations When Looking for Farmland

understand icon

Understand your budget and operation needs. Take a long look at your financial situation when evaluating the prices of farmland that you’re considering.

compare icon

Compare different options like the costs between purchasing and renting land. Be sure to check land values and rental rates to see if it is in line with what you can afford.

check climate icon

Check the climate and growing conditions on the land to make sure it matches needs of your specific operation.

assess icon

Assess the land properly before agreeing to rent or purchase it. Learn more about assessing land from the Farmland Information Center’s site assessment worksheet and use it as a guide when documenting your findings. Assessment examples:

  • Visit the land multiple times and walk the property to make sure the property fits your needs.
  • Test the soils and the water to make sure they fit your standards for your land.
  • Collect information and document what you find on the land.
  • Explore the community around the area and visit the state, county or municipal websites to learn about policies that can support your type of operation.

Leasing Land

Renting land may be a better option when starting out. You might find some leads from these groups:

  • Connect with the local farming community and get the word out about your search.
  • The Cooperative Extension program from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).


Purchasing Land

To see what’s available, check out FSA’s inventory of farmland property for purchase. Beginning farmers have first priority to purchase these properties at the appraised value.

To buy the land, you might want to consider Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Loans from FSA such as the Down Payment Loan and farm ownership loans.

If you're connected with your local farming community, the Transition Incentives Program might provide an opportunity to purchase land from owners looking to return land to production.

USDA does not offer grants for purchasing land and most grants that are available are for low dollar amounts or for very specific purposes. If you are looking for a grant, check with your local service center — they may be aware of state grant opportunities — or check out the following resources:

A farmer drives a windrower to harvest alfalfa 

Finding Capital for Other Farm and Ranch Needs

The next step after acquiring farmland is to start looking for capital to fund your operation.

Considerations When Finding Capital 

Understand the types of funding you need before applying for loans. USDA offers loans for different types of agricultural needs including but not limited to:

  • Equipment, Livestock, and Other Improvements.
  • Feed, Seed, and Inputs (annual operating loan types).
  • Value Added Processing - Loans from USDA and/or SBA may help you finance further processing your products (like turning your cucumbers into pickles, or independent label beef), or aggregating products with others (for example, making jams and jellies using fruits from multiple producers).
  • Cost Share - FSA financing may be able to be used to assist with the capital needed for other USDA agency programs that require a cost share such as those offered by NRCS or Rural Development.

Use our Farm Loan Assistance Tool, read our Farm Loans factsheet, or check out FSA's information about farm loan programs to learn about USDA farm loans that might be right for you.

farm image

Working with USDA

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) makes and guarantees loans to farmers who are unable to obtain financing from commercial lenders. You can use FSA loans to pay normal operating or family living expenses, purchase and develop farmland, implement approved conservation plans, and buy farm structures, seeds, livestock and equipment.

Each year, FSA targets a portion of its lending by setting aside a portion of all loan funds for financing beginning farmer and rancher operations through the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Loans. These opportunities also address the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and veteran farmers and ranchers known collectively as “historically underserved producers”.

You can also get loans to help finance your portion of conservation practices supported by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Visit our Loans page for more information about funding you can apply for. 

sba logo

Working with the Small Business Administration

You may want to explore other agencies that finance agriculture and food businesses. Sometimes combining funding from multiple sources is helpful.

To get started with the Small Business Administration (SBA), you should visit a local bank or lending institution that participates in SBA programs. You can use Lender Match to connect with participating SBA Lenders and complete a short, online questionnaire. An interested lender and prospective borrower can then connect.


Learn More About FSA Farm Loans

Next Steps

Once you have acquired your land and obtained the necessary funding, you will need to start building your operation by determining the legal structure of your business and obtaining the necessary licenses and permits. Start considering insurance options and making decisions on business management components.

4. build 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

Ver en:

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.