Farm financing can take many forms, and grants, loans, and cost shares are great ways to help your operation’s bottom line. So what do these terms mean?

  • Grants: Do not have to be repaid.  May sometimes require proof of matching funds from the applicant.  Must be used to satisfy the goals of the grant program.
  • Cost Shares: An agency or organization will share in the cost of a program up to a stipulated amount.  The majority of these programs are reimbursement programs where the farmer may need to lay out the funds to complete the program and then get reimbursed.
  • Loans: Have to be repaid.  The applicant must undergo a credit check, and depending on the loan may be required to put up some sort of collateral.


  • Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) has a competitive grants program funded by USDA and EPA to promote research and education about sustainable agriculture. The Producer Grant and the On Farm Research Grant are the two most accessible grants for farmers.  The Producer grant program pays for a farmer to do on farm research on a sustainable agriculture topic.  The On Farm Research grant pays a farmer to do on farm research in conjunction with a partner such as Extension or and educational institution. Calls for proposals are issued each year to start the competitive process. Grant Programs Available:
    • Research and Education Grants
    • Producer Grants
    • Graduate Student Grants
    • Sustainable Community Grants
    • Professional Development Grants
    • On-farm Research Grants
  • Farm Bill Programs and Grants: Click here for a link the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s overview of Farm Bill programs and grants.
  • The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) funds research on organic farming and food systems and the dissemination of these research results to the greater agricultural community.  The grant is open to any agricultural production, social, economic, or policy-related topic of concern to organic farmers and/or ranchers. OFRF supports research that is relevant to and takes place in certified organic systems.  OFRF has identified the following as areas of particular interest:
    • Organic livestock systems;
    • Economic constraints and opportunities relevant to the viability of small- and medium-scale organic farms and ranches;
    • Projects that investigate the interactions between components of organic systems and that take a systems-management (rather than an input-substitution) approach to solving production problems.

 Cost Share Programs


Below are a list of banks, agencies and nonprofits offering loans to farmers and agricultural enterprises: