How to Start a Farm: Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

New to farming? Want to learn how to start a farm? USDA can help and offers additional assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers. USDA considers anyone who has operated a farm or ranch for less than ten years to be a beginning farmer or rancher. USDA can help you get started or grow your operation through a variety of programs and services, from farm loans to crop insurance, and conservation programs to disaster assistance.

Get Started

Why Work with USDA

Advice and Guidance


A new farm or ranch business relies on good planning.

We can guide you to resources for your business plan.

We can also provide free technical assistance and help you develop a conservation plan for your land.

You might want to learn about the Score Mentorship Program to learn from a fellow farmer.

Local and regional agricultural organizations like Cooperative Extension offer training to beginning farmers.

Access to Capital


Access to capital enables you to buy or lease land, buy equipment, and help with other operating costs. Learn more about resources for access to land and capital.

See more information on other USDA funding for your operation or learn specifically about Farm Service Agency’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Loans.

Conservation, Insurance and Disaster Assistance


Conservation programs can help you take care of natural resources while improving the efficiencies on your operation.

Agriculture is an inherently risky business. It’s important to plan for everyday business risks and those brought on by natural disasters. Federal crop insurance and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program are good options for managing risk. 

We also offer disaster assistance to help your farm recover.

How to Work with USDA to Start a Farm

Service Centers


Your first step should be to contact your USDA Service Center and make an appointment. Be sure to ask what documents you’ll need. Also consider -- what is your vision for your land and farm? What are your challenges?

If you need information in a language other than English, we can offer free translation services.

Farmer Coordinators


Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coordinators are USDA team members that can help you understand the USDA process and find the right assistance for your operation. We have coordinators across the country.

Self-service Options


Learn how to sign up for a account. You can view loan information and manage conservation business online here.

We also have a number of tools to help you: find the right loan; learn about recovery options after natural disasters; or discover conservation options.

Specialty Farmer Groups

Historically Underserved Farmers and Ranchers


We offer help for the unique concerns of producers who meet the USDA definition of “historically underserved” -- beginning, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and military veterans. In addition, women in agriculture are helping to pave the way for a better future. Use this self-determination tool to determine if you’re a limited resource producer.

If you inherited land without a clear title or documented legal ownership, learn more about how USDA can help Heirs’ Property Landowners establish a farm number to gain access to a variety of programs and services.

If you are a producer with disabilities, organizations like Agrability offer services that can help adapt and modify farm equipment to be more accessible.

Urban Farmers


USDA has been helping more and more farms and gardens in urban centers. Learn about our Urban Farming funding and resources.

The NRCS Urban Agriculture webpage can help with things like high tunnels, composting, and pest management.

Organic Farmers


If you are an organic farmer, you can apply for the same loans and programs as conventional farmers. You may also apply for USDA to pay a portion of your certification through the FSA Organic Certification Cost Share Program.

For specific conservation assistance that may interest you, check out NRCS Assistance for Organics.

The USDA National Organic Program has resources from a comprehensive list of organic farms to certification information. 

Learn more about USDA programs, services, and resources available for organic farmers.

USDA Support for Beginning Farmers

Dominique Herman, a Beginning Farmer from New York, utilizes assistance from FSA to help her keep her mentor's dream alive through a flock of Merino Sheep following tragedy.  

Get Involved

In addition to our farm programs, there are many leadership opportunities for beginning farmers to contribute their voices and experience. Through USDA, you can take advantage of several key opportunities like committee elections, research and promotion programs, and federal advisory committees. 

Learn more about how to connect with your agricultural community


Additional Resources

Find Your Local Service Center

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit

Visit the Risk Management Agency website to find a regional or compliance office or to find an insurance agent near you.