Additional Programs and Resources for Beginning Farmers

Federal Programs | Conservation Programs | Other Programs | Resources

Federal programs for beginning farmers

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

  • Applies to land currently in CRP (a land set-aside program where landowners are paid to establish soil conserving and enriching plant mixes, but are not allowed to harvest or graze) but returning to production
  • Offers a special incentive of two years extra CRP rental payments to owners of land who rent or sell the land to beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers

Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmer and Rancher Land Contract Guarantee Program

  • Encourages retiring landowners to sell to beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers through private, contractual agreements
  • Provides a government backed guarantee to these landowners

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Account (IDA) Program

  • Not yet funded
  • Designed to help new farmers and ranchers of limited means build the capital necessary to start or expand their agricultural businesses through matched savings accounts

Conservation funding with incentives for beginners

Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Organic Initiative

  • Administered by the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)
  • 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.
  • Higher payment rates for beginners

Conservation Stewardship Program

  • Working lands conservation program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
  • Offers technical and financial assistance to farmers for maintaining high standards of environmental stewardship
  • Higher payment rates for beginners

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.

Other helpful programs for beginning farmers

Rural Enterprise Assistance Program: business planning and small business advice

100 Beef Cow Ownership Advantage Program

  • Program of the Nebraska Technical College of Agriculture
  • Students build their own business
  • Project partners help with loans and tax incentives and encourage landowners to participate
  • Graduates leave school qualified for a USDA loan for 100 cows and a plan for transitioning to ownership of a farm or ranch

100 Acre Farm Advantage Program

  • Program of the Nebraska Technical College of Agriculture
  • Students build their own business
  • Project partners help with loans and tax incentives and encourage landowners to participate
  • Graduates leave school with a business plan, partnership agreement, and qualified for a USDA low interest loan to acquire substantial agriculture assets to one day own a farm


General information

Legal details

Business and financial support

Conservation, local food, and high value markets

Books, guides, and courses available for download, purchase, or attendance

  • Holistic Management: Resources (including free downloads) and courses to help farmers and ranchers manage land in an economically and environmentally sustainable way
  • Land Stewardship Project - Farm Beginnings: A range of opportunities to learn firsthand about low-cost, sustainable methods of farming; courses may be available in your area
  • New England Small Farm Institute Publications: Books and courses available for purchase on topics for small farmers, especially “Exploring the Small Farm Dream”
  • Farming Alternatives: A Guide to Evaluating the Feasibility of New Farm-Based Enterprises: The 'classic' workbook for thinking through the farm startup and building a business plan
  • Northeast Beginning Farmers: Online courses and publications to help build new farm businesses, geared to the Northeast, especially New York State
  • Guide to Farming in NY: Series of continually updated fact sheets on topics small farmers deal with, not limited to NY; also links to other useful resources.
  • Tilling the Soil of Opportunity: The Cadillac of courses for farm entrepreneurship, a 10+ week course that goes in depth about financial planning and marketing, primarily for an add-on farm enterprise
  • IFARM: Integrated Farm and Resource Management Plan: Comprehensive guide for farm and resource planning, designed especially with beginning farmers in mind, integrating environmental protection with economic and community goals as well as family and personal goals. IFARM addresses marketing, production, financial planning, and assessment. If interested, please email Wyatt Fraas.

For more information, contact Wyatt Fraas at


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