USDA is committed to equity in the delivery of programs and resources and creates opportunities for small-scale producers to access products that helps meet their unique management needs. No matter the size of your operation or the crop being produced, our programs can help you start, grow, and protect your operation. Start by learning how programs can serve you, reading about how other producers have used USDA programs for their operations, and getting connected to local USDA staff who can support you.
Programs and Services
Every agricultural operation is different – farm or ranch, rural or urban, small or big, and everywhere in between. That’s why USDA offers a wide variety of programs and services, such as loans, conservation assistance, disaster assistance, and safety net programs. Farmers.gov has a wealth of information on all of our programs.
This includes microloans, which are designed to meet the needs of small and beginning farmers, or for non-traditional and specialty operations by easing some of the requirements and offering less paperwork. It also includes our conservation programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) that offers 100-plus practices, even those that are good fits for small-scale operations. For example, practices like cover crops and fencing work well on small-scale operations.
Are you looking to manage your farm or ranch to maximize production in a changing market? Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers conservation practices that can help meet the unique management needs of your operation.
No matter the size of your farm or ranch, NRCS offers assistance with conservation planning and installing practices that are specific to your natural resource needs and business goals. From simple management systems, such as planting cover crops, to complex structural practices, such as animal waste management systems or innovative irrigation devices, NRCS has a conservation solution for you.
These small farm solutions fact sheets offer a general understanding of NRCS technical services and implementation of conservation practices or management concepts. The factsheets are introductory in nature and should not be used to implement conservation practices or management concepts without technical support. Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are encouraged to seek NRCS technical assistance to develop a conservation plan that fits the management needs of their operations.
- Abandoned Well Plugging: Properly close an unused well posing a variety of safety concerns.
- Ag Chemical Handling Facility: Safely store and mix chemicals to reduce risk of pollution and vegetation damage.
- Alley Cropping: Plant crops between tree rows to generate annual income and diversify your operation.
- Animal Mortality Disposal: Properly dispose of animal carcasses to reduce risk of disease, contamination, and odor.
- Balancing Animals with Forage: Increase pasture longevity by understanding your forage-animal balance.
- Biological Pest Management: Better control insects and disease with natural alternatives.
- Composting Manure: Compost manure piles to reduce resource concerns and volume of manure while creating efficient fertilizer.
- Cover Crops: Utilize planting grasses and legumes to combat crusting soils, soil erosion, weeds and more.
- Farmstead Windbreaks: Reduce heating cost and provide a natural barrier for weather events and debris.
- Fencing: Better manage and protect your resources by strategically limiting access from animals and people.
- Forage Planting: Provide weed management, increase livestock feed, poor yields and lack of legumes.
- Forest Farming: Diversify your land and make your land more profitable.
- Fuel and Fire Breaks: Increase protection of your property and resources from the hazards of wildfire.
- Grade Stabilization: Stop and prevent worsening gullies caused by excess water runoff in your fields.
- Heavy Use Area Protection: Provide safe and stable access to areas frequently used by livestock.
- Irrigation Water Management: Better understand when, how much, and at what rate to apply irrigation water.
- Low-Cost Irrigation System: Increase crop potential with adequate water.
- Managing Manure Nutrients - Central US: Turn manure into an asset for your soil health.
- Managing Manure Nutrients - Eastern US: Turn manure into an asset for your soil health.
- Managing Natural Vegetation: Provide wildlife habitat on non-production areas with early successional plants.
- Manure Storage: Combat manure seepage, smell and overall facility or field health.
- Native Pollinators: Improve crop production and quality with the help of native pollinators.
- Odor Control: Reduce unwanted smell or manure visibility of livestock operations.
- Pruning: Remove tree overgrowth to decrease fire hazard and increase production of vegetation.
- Rotations for Livestock Feed: Implement crop rotations to address livestock feed needs and reduce costs.
- Rotations for Soil Fertility: Implement crop rotations to address soil issues and improve crop yields.
- Runoff Management: Control excess runoff causing muddy barn yards and possible water contamination.
- Selecting an Irrigation System: Explore irrigation systems to choose the right option for your needs.
- Silvopasture: Take advantage of tree, forage and livestock production on the same acreage at the same time.
- Small Woodlot Improvement: Address overcrowded woodlands to reduce wildfire risk and improve productivity.
- Soil Health: Increase plant health and decrease soil issues like erosion and runoff.
- Soil Testing: Identify production problems related to nutrient deficiencies or imbalances.
- Sources of Water: Understand your water supply options and improve your irrigation systems.
- Spring Development: Create low maintenance springs to improve grazing distribution and animal health.
- Stream Crossing: Improve water quality, animal health and maintain streambanks with adequate crossing systems.
- Vegetative Barrier: Utilize perennial plants to address gully erosion in fields.
- Watering Facility: Provide a clean and easily accessible water source for livestock.
To learn more or to apply for a program, contact your local USDA Service Center, and your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) or Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) team member can assist.
Meanwhile, crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. This includes the Micro Farm crop insurance option, designed for small farms with simplified record keeping and coverage for post-production costs like washing and value-added products. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the Risk Management Agency's (RMA) Agent Locator. If you have difficulty finding an agent, contact your RMA Regional Office.
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.
Your first step should be to contact your USDA Service Center and make an appointment. Be sure to ask what documents you’ll need such as the Customer Data Worksheet (AD-2047) and Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource and Beginning Farmer or Rancher Certification Form (CCC-860) to update your contact and demographic information and status as a limited resource, military veteran, and/or beginning farmer. Also consider: what is your vision for your land and farm? What are your challenges?
Prior to your visit you can also use USDA’s self-determination tool to see if you're qualify for limited resource special provisions.
In addition to USDA team members at local Service Centers and crop insurance agents, USDA has outreach specialists well versed in programs and services administered by FSA, NRCS, and RMA.
Additionally, USDA has beginning farmer and rancher coordinators available to producers new to farming, and RMA has specialty crop liaisons for specialty crop growers with insurance questions
Learn how to sign up for a farmers.gov 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.
USDA encourages farmers to participate in leadership opportunities including County Office Committees and Soil and Water Conservation Districts, which help with delivery of Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service programs, research and promotion programs, and federal advisory committees.
May 10, 2023: USDA Announces New Steps to Enhance Organic Markets and Support Producers
- January 11, 2023: USDA Reminds Producers of Continuous Certification Option for Perennial Forage
- Farm Service Agency's Outreach and Education webpage
- Natural Resources Conservation Service's Outreach and Partnerships webpage
- Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
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 offices.usda.gov.
Visit the Risk Management Agency website to ﬁnd a regional or compliance office or to ﬁnd an insurance agent near you.