A good farm business plan is your roadmap to start-up, profitability, and growth, and provides the foundation for your conversation with USDA about how our programs can complement your operation. Your business plan will be a living document that you can change as your vision and circumstances shift.
Farm Service Agency (FSA)
Staff at your local service center, as well as your State Beginning Farmer Coordinator can connect you to local resources in your community to help you establish a successful business plan. If you are applying for a loan your loan officer will review your business plan and assist you in translating your plan and farm vision to your application.
This FSA business plan template is part of the application and shows you the type of information you should gather when preparing your plan and application materials.
The Score Mentorship Program partners with USDA to provide:
- Free, local support and resources, including business planning help, financial guidance, growth strategies
- Mentorship through one-on-one business coaching -- in-person, online, and by phone
- Training from subject matter experts with agribusiness experience
- Online resources and step-by-step outlines for business strategies
Learn more about the program through the Score FAQ.
Other Farm Business Resources
- Extension.org is an online community for the Cooperative Extension program where you can find publications and ask experts for advice.
- The Small Business Administration offers information about starting, managing, and transitioning a business.
- FarmAnswers.org, from the University of Minnesota, includes business planning guides like this Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses and several key tax guides.
- IRS.gov provides Publication 225: The Farmer's Tax Guide as well as small business tax information.
- Organic Farming has unique considerations. See USDA’s Is Organic an Option for Me?, NRCS’s Organic Website, and the National Organic Program.
- Value Added Products – Check out Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) resources.
- Starting a Cooperative? Check out How to Start a Cooperative from USDA’s Rural Development Agency (RD). Cooperative Development Centers, partially funded by RD, can also provide guidance.
- Urban Farming has special opportunities and restrictions. Learn how USDA can help at farmers.gov/urban.
- Getting Involved Locally – Check your local community for agricultural events, conferences or meetings to attend as well as any farmers markets or food hubs.
Conservation and Risk Management
Another key tool is a conservation plan, which determines how you want to improve the health of your land. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service can help you develop a conservation plan for your land, based on your goals, at your local USDA Service Center.
A conservation plan can help you layout your plan to address resource needs, costs and schedules. Learn more about conservation in agriculture.
Crop insurance, whole farm revenue protection and other resources can help you prepare for unforeseen challenges. Learn more about disaster recovery.
Prepare for Your Visit to a USDA Service Center
Once you've written out a business plan for your operation, prepare for your visit to a USDA service center. During your visit, we can help you with the necessary steps to register your business and get access to key USDA programs.
Setting Up and Financing Your Business
Tips to Consider When Setting Up Your Business
Use the New Farmers Checklist to understand the steps you might need to take before setting up your operation.
- Determine the legal structure of your business whether it may be a sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation, S corporation, nonprofit, or cooperative.
- Register your business with your state government.
- Obtain a Tax Identification Number from the IRS and your state revenue agency.
- Register for state and local taxes to obtain a Tax Identification Number, workers' compensation and unemployment and disability insurance.
- Obtain the necessary business licenses and permits.
- Understand the legal steps you'll need to take to hire employees.
Learn more about how you can get funding for your operation on our Land and Capital page.
Learn more about opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers.