Guides to Government Programs for Farmers and Ranchers

This page gives a summary of all the pages the Center For Rural Affairs has created to help navigate government programs for farmers and ranchers.

Land Access and Loan Programs

Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmer and Rancher Land Contract Guarantee Program

The Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmer and Rancher Land Contract Guarantee Program is designed to encourage retiring landowners to sell to beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers through private, contractual agreements.

Conservation Reserve Program Transition Option for Beginning Farmer or Rancher Development Program

The CRP Transition Option offers a special incentive of two years extra CRP rental payments to owners of land currently in CRP but returning to production who rent or sell the land to beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

Direct Farm Ownership and Operating Loans

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides Direct Farm Ownership and Operating Loans for farmers and ranchers. A percentage of direct ownership and operating loans are reserved for beginning farmers and ranchers and for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

Guaranteed Loan Program

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides Guaranteed Farm Ownership and Operating Loans for farmers and ranchers to work with banks, credit unions or other lenders to make loans with an FSA guarantee against significant loss of principal or interest. A percentage of guaranteed ownership and operating loans are reserved for beginning farmers and ranchers and for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

Conservation

Conservation Stewardship Program

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a working lands conservation program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and available on a nationwide basis. CSP offers technical and financial assistance to farmers for maintaining high standards of environmental stewardship. Assistance is available for both the active management of existing conservation systems and for implementing new conservation activities on land in agricultural production.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Organic Initiative

Administered by the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative (EQIP OI) provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who are transitioning to organic systems and those already conducting organic practices and want to add acres and/or livestock or just improve their conservation.

Wetlands Reserve Program

The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners and Tribes to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands in exchange for retiring eligible land from agriculture. Over 1.9 million acres are currently enrolled in WRP. Participation is voluntary.

A Guide for Organic Farmers and Ranchers: NRCS State Technical Committees and Local Working Groups

Learn how organic farmers and ranchers can influence the rules for federal conservation programs at the state and local level to impact how these programs work on the ground. (Opens pdf)

Renewable Energy and Energy Crop Programs

Rural Energy for America

This page provides resources for farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners who want to install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements to their rural business. The Rural Energy for America Program provides grants and guaranteed loans to help farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.

Biomass Crop Assistance Program

Farmers and ranchers participating in a Biomass Crop Assistance Program project may enter into a 5-year agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture to establish annual or perennial crops or a 15-year agreement for woody biomass. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency will administer the program. The program will likely be implemented in 2011.

Conservation Reserve Program Transition Option for Beginning or Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers

Developing High-Value, Niche Markets

Value Added Producer Grant Program

The Value-Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG) is a competitive grants program administered by the Rural Business Cooperative Service of USDA to help producers expand markets for, and increase their profitability through value-added agricultural enterprises.

Educational and Training Opportunities Through Research

Beginning Farmer or Rancher Development Program

The future of entrepreneurial opportunities in agriculture depends on the ability of new family farmers and ranchers to enter agriculture. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), a competitive grants program for eligible organizations and agencies, can play an important role in addressing critical issues facing new farmers and ranchers through supporting educational, mentoring and training opportunities.

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE)

Since 1988, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program has helped advance farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities through a nationwide research and education grants program. There are grants for farmers and ranchers, organizations and agencies and even youth ages 8-18.