As a new farmer or rancher, access to land and access to capital are probably your biggest challenges. Your first step should be developing your farm business plan.
You will need a place 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!
Blog: USDA’s Support for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
Whether buying or leasing land, or seeking capital, the Farmland Information Center has information specifically tailored for you.
- 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.
- The Conservation Reserve Program Transition Incentive Program transitions expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land from a retired or retiring owner or operator to a beginning, veteran, or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher.
- To buy the land, you might want to consider FSA Loans such as the Down Payment Loan and farm ownership loans.
Renting land may be a better option when starting out. You might find some leads from these groups:
- The Cooperative Extension program from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
- Stakeholder groups like Cattlemen’s Association, Farm Bureau, Fruit and Vegetable Association, National Farmers Union, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Wheat Growers Association, or Young Farmers Coalition.
- Realtors who specialize in farmland. Other farmers -- connect with the local farming community and get the word out about your search.
- Organizations such as Land for Good and the National Ag Law Center also provide information on what to expect when leasing farmland and how to be a better tenant.
Finding Capital for Other Farm and Ranch Needs
Farm Loan Discovery Tool
You can use our Farm Loan Discovery Tool and the Farm Loans factsheet to learn about USDA farm loans that might be right for you.
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.
Our Farm Loan Discovery Tool will point you in the right direction for loans to finance other agricultural needs, such as:
- Equipment, Livestock, and Other Improvements
- Feed, Seed, and Inputs (annual operating loan types)
- Conservation – You can get loans to help finance your portion of conservation practices supported by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
- Value Added Processing – Loans from USDA and/or SBA may help you finance further processing your products (e.g. turning your cucumbers into pickles, or independent label beef), or aggregating products with others (e.g. 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.
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 SBA's Lender Match to connect with participating SBA Lenders and complete a short, online questionnaire. An interested lender and prospective borrower then connect. The SBA Loans page details the forms and documents you and your lender will need to create a loan package for submission to SBA.
Learn more about funding your farmland.
Learn more about opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers.