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Farmer Resources

RAFI-USA supports farm families directly through three key program areas: Farm Advocacy, Disaster Assistance, and the Farmers of Color Network.


Farm Advocacy – We provide financial planning assistance and advocacy for farmers. We serve farms ranging from small, specialty operations to livestock and commodity operations on thousands of acres. Learn more about RAFI-USA’s Farm Advocacy.

Disaster Assistance
– We advocate for disaster and risk management policies that support farm families in increasing the sustainability of their farms. We provide training and resources on disaster assistance programs to help farm families prepare and recover from natural disasters. Learn more about RAFI-USA’s Disaster Assistance.

Farmers of Color Network – We aim to 1) build a stronger network of farmers of color through farmer-led technical support and educational opportunities, 2) engage farmers with new markets and market solutions, 3) create a cultural space, and 4) center collective work exchanges, mutual support for on-farm infrastructure and increase the collective knowledge base within the Network. Learn more about the Farmers of Color Network.  

Agricultural Reinvestment Fund Farmer Grant Program

The Agricultural Reinvestment Fund grant program assisted entrepreneurial and innovative farmers and collaborative groups in developing new sources of agricultural income. This grant program funded more than 600 farming projects and distributed more than $6 million in funds to agricultural communities over the past 22 years.   RAFI-USA no longer coordinates the ARF farmer grant program for individual and collaborative projects. However, farmer grant funding is still available through other NC grant programs. Those interested in applying for innovative on-farm project funding should visit one of the following websites for more information. NC AgVentures Grant Program – available statewide UMO AgPrime Grant Program – available to 33 Eastern NC counties WNC AgOptions Grant Program – available to 22 Western NC counties  

Past RAFI-USA Grant Recipients

Click here to view a list of past grant recipients.

Other Farmer Resources

There are many other resources available for farmers interested in strengthening or expanding their agricultural businesses. Read below about grants, loans, educational publications, trainings, and other programming support available for farms of any type or size. Resources are sorted by category with national level support listed first, followed by regional and state level resources.  

Grants

Value Added Producer Grant (USDA Rural Development) – The Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of new products.

Farmers’ Guide to Applying for the Valued-Added Producer Grant Program

  Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fundsmall grant program that provides direct assistance to veterans who are in their beginning years of farming or ranching. The Fellowship Fund does not give money directly to the veteran, but rather to third-party vendors for items the veteran has identified will make a crucial difference in the launch of their farm business. Awards range from $1,000 to $5,000.

  Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) – The Producer Grants program is for individual farmers and farmer groups to conduct research, marketing and education projects.

  Speciality Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) – North Carolina Department of Agriculture distributes grant funds to organizations and individuals to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.


 

Agricultural Loans and Credit


Farm Service Agency
– provides family farmers with access to credit to support their businesses. The various FSA Loan programs include Guaranteed Farm Loan funds, Direct Operating and Direct Farm Ownership loan funds, Microloan funding and Youth loans. Funding is also set aside for historically underserved farmers and ranchers.   Farmers’ Guide to the Microloan Program – This guide will introduce readers to the Microloan Program offered through the USDA Farm Service Agency. The Microloan Program provides operating loans designed to meet the needs of small and beginning farmers, non-traditional, specialty crop and niche type operations by easing some requirements and paperwork.

  Farmer’s Guide to Agricultural CreditAccessing capital is one of the many challenges facing farmers. By using this guide, you’ll learn how to: 1) assess and potentially improve your credit score, 2) initiate the business planning process for your farm enterprise, and 3) approach a lender with a well-written business plan and loan application materials.

  Farm Storage Facility Loans (FSFLs) – provide low-interest financing for producers to store, handle and/or transport eligible commodities they produce.

  Self-Help Credit Union’s Healthy Food System Finance – loans to businesses and nonprofits that work to improve the way food is produced, distributed and sold. They lend to food aggregators and distributors, grocery stores and food co-ops, entrepreneurs hoping to start food businesses, urban farmers expanding their distribution networks in low-income communities, and food waste and recycling companies.

 

Cost-Share Funding Programs


Funding for on-farm, innovative projects
is available through three NC grant programs. Those interested in applying for funding should visit one of the following websites for more information about grant cycles and funding priorities.

NC AgVentures Grant Program – available statewide
UMO AgPrime Grant Program – available to 33 Eastern NC counties
WNC AgOptions Grant Program – available to 22 Western NC counties

EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) – provides financial assistance for the cost of implementing conservation practices. Natural Resource Conservation Service provides agricultural producers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement conservation practice improvements.

  High Tunnel System Initiative – Through EQIP, farmers can access financial assistance to purchase high tunnels for their operation. EQIP Fact Sheet

  EQIP Organic Initiative Conservation Practices for Your Farm – examples of conservation practices that EQIP-OI will finance. (CFSA)

  Cold Storage Financing Programavailable to NC farmers; provides financing and support to small, midscale and limited resource farmers to acquire portable or stationary cold storage units. A low interest loan from Natural Capital Investment Fund is paired with a NC Growing Together grant that “buys down” the cost of purchasing cold storage units.
 

General Resources and Helpful Organizations


Farm Aid’s Farmer Resource Network Online DirectoryFarm Aid’s online directory contains more than 750 organizations that work directly with farmers nationwide on a variety of issues.

  ATTRA – The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service: Your source for the latest in sustainable agriculture and organic farming news, free publications, events and funding opportunities. ATTRA services are available to farmers, ranchers, market gardeners, Extension agents, researchers, educators, farm organizations and others involved in agriculture, especially those who are economically disadvantaged or belong to traditionally underserved communities.

  Farm Commons – offers a wide range of resources on sustainable farm law including free FAQ fact sheets on common farm law questions, print guides, podcasts and recorded webinar tutorials. One popular FAQ fact sheet is Building the Right Business Structure for Your Farm.

  NC Cooperative Extension – serves as a link between university agricultural research and the people of North Carolina. County extension agents are available to help with issues concerning agriculture, horticulture, conservation of natural resources, protection of the environment, nutrition, health and a wide variety of family and economic concerns.  

Practical Farming Education and Training Resources


Practical Farmers of Iowa | Farminar Archive – Practical Farmers of Iowa offers webinars and educational resources that are relevant and helpful to farmers across the country. Check out their archive of ‘farminars’ to learn more. These free 90-minute online seminars feature a wide variety of farming topics with farmers as the experts.

  Farm Hack – an online, open-source platform for appropriate and affordable farm tools and technologies.

  Managing Food Safety Liability Risks (Farm Commons) – Farm Commons Fact Sheet addresses proactive steps farmers can take to limit food safety legal liability risks, insurance coverage options, whether and when you have to comply with the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and dealing with local regulators or inspectors related to health and safety issues.

  Organic Transition and Production Handbook for Carolina Produce FarmersThe aim of this publication is to highlight and share resources to address common pitfalls for produce farmers in organic transition. It was written by Eric Soderholm, former Organic Transition Coordinator at CFSA.    


Farm Business, Legal and Risk Management Resources


Ag Risk and Farm Management Library The Library helps agricultural producers and professionals quickly locate information, tools and assistance on specific ag risk and farm management topics. The Library includes:
  • Documents & Videos – over 3,000 documents organized by Production, Marketing, Financial, Legal and Human Risk topics
  • Crop & Livestock Budgets – more than 2,700 crop budgets representing over 280 crops and more than 400 livestock budgets from over 30 states
  Small Farm Risk Management Resources for Farmers / La gestión de riesgos para las granjas these webinars cover risk management options for small, diversified and specialty crop producers. Available in English and Spanish.

  The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops, and Staff – and Making a Profit by Richard Wiswall

Black Family Land Trust one of the nation’s only conservation land trusts dedicated to the preservation and protection of African-American and other historically underserved landowners’ assets.

Land Leasing for Your Sustainable Farm Enterprise (Farm Commons) – issues addressed in this FAQ on leasing farmland include the importance of getting a lease in writing, early termination, who’s responsible for what, protecting your investments when making improvements and long-term leases.

  Purchasing Land for Your Farm Operation (Farm Commons) – issues addressed in this FAQ on farmland purchasing include financing options, permitted activities under zoning ordinances (housing workers, subdividing, value added, agritourism), in-kind payments for farmland purchase & land contracts.

  Agritourism on Your Farm (Farm Commons) – issues addressed in this FAQ on agritourism include zoning ordinances, employee wages and workers’ compensation requirements, tax reporting, liability for injuries at farm events, sales tax requirements and disability accommodation requirements.

  How Do I Find a Farm Lawyer? – Tips on how to approach finding a lawyer for your agricultural business (Carolina Farm Stewardship Association).

  NC FarmLinka program of NC State Extension that connects farmers, landowners and service providers across North Carolina, helping to grow the state’s agriculture industry.

  NC Growing Together webinar series – this YouTube channel includes webinars on food safety, taking farm and food businesses to the next level, crowdfunding, marketing, heir property and other topics.  


Research Publications


The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development – As the world’s first community-supported journal, this peer reviewed, open access resource focuses solely on food and farming-related community development.  

Agriculture Community Networking and Listservs


National Young Farmers Coalition – advocacy network of young farmers fighting for the future of agriculture. Visit their website to find chapters all across the country.

  Subscribe to RAFI-USA’s mailing list. We send out RAFI-USA news and announcements via email.
 

To subscribe to
NC State Extension listservs for small farmers, visit this link.
  • General sustainable agriculture
  • Growing small farms
  • Pastured poultry
  • Chatham beekeepers
  • Medicinal herbs
  • Chatham forestry
  To join the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) listservs, visit this link.
  • Local Food Action Plan
  • CEFS Events
  • NC Farmers’ Markets
  • North Carolina Organic Grain Project
  • NC Food Policy Council
  • NC Choices
  • NC Farm to School Coalition

NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services listserv – receive e-mails NCDA & CS considers to be of statewide interest, including N.C. State Fair news.