Agriculture can be one of the most satisfying and rewarding ways to make a living. From farming and food production to forestry, agribusinesses contribute to the health of the population and security of the country. Starting and running an agricultural business involves a lot of paperwork, regulations and technical know-how. This guide provides information about government programs that help new and existing agricultural businesses start, expand, obtain financing, and comply with laws and regulations.

The U.S. Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers and manages farm commodity, credit, conservation, disaster and loan programs through a network of federal, state and county offices. The following resources describe farm loan programs provided by FSA.

Select a topic to jump to the section on this page:

Farm Loans |   CottonDairyEnvironmental ComplianceFarm Bill Fisheries  | Forestry  | Fruit & Vegetables  | GrainHorticultureInternational TradeLivestockOrganic FoodPesticidesPoultry  | SeedTobaccoVeterinary Medicine

  • Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Online Forms
    Provides an Electronic Forms Manager tool to assist users who wish to conduct transactions with AMS.

  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Permits
    Provides information on the various permits that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issues as well as online access for acquiring those permits.

  • Biotechnology Regulatory Services
    Covers the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS), which protect America's agriculture and environment using a dynamic and science-based regulatory framework that allows for the safe development and use of genetically engineered organisms.

  • Commodity Food Network: How to Sell to the USDA
    Supplies a guide for vendors, food processors, and small business entrepreneurs that want to know how to sell fresh and processed products to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for distribution to eligible recipients participating in the USDA Food Distribution Programs.

  • Crop Insurance FAQs
    Answers questions from farmers about purchasing crop insurance.

  • Farm Loan Programs
    Gives information about direct and guaranteed farm ownership and operating loans to family-size farmers and ranchers who cannot obtain commercial credit from a bank.

  • Farmers Market Promotion Program
    Details grants issued under the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976 to help improve and expand domestic farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities.

  • Food Safety and Inspection FAQs
    Lists commonly asked questions and answers about USDA inspection of food processing facilities.

  • Grading and Certification of Agricultural Products
    Links to grading and certification of dairy products, livestock and meat, cotton, fruits and vegetables and tobacco.

  • OSHA eTool: Youth In Agriculture
    Offers eTool that describes common agricultural hazards and offers potential safety solutions that both employers and young workers can utilize to prevent accidents and avoid injury on the job. It includes information from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the following topics: tractors; other machinery; struck-by; falls; electrocution; confined space; chemicals; worker/picker; and organic dust.

  • Tax Guide for Farmers and Agricultural Business Owners
    Links to related topics such as tax tips, financial resources, trends and statistics, forms and more.

  • Wages in Agriculture
    Provides information on the obligations of employers of agricultural workers, including migrant and seasonal agricultural workers.


Back to top


Farm Loans

  • Beginning Farms and Ranchers Loans
    Direct and guaranteed loans to beginning farmers and ranchers who are unable to obtain financing from commercial credit sources.

  • Commodity Loans / Marketing Assistance Loans
    Marketing assistance loans provide producers interim financing at harvest time to meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are typically at harvest-time lows

  • Direct Farm Loans
    Loan programs for starting and operating farms and other agricultural businesses.

  • Emergency Farm Loans
    Emergency loans to help producers recover from production and physical losses due to drought, flooding, other natural disasters, or quarantine.

  • Farm Storage Facility Loan Program
    Provides low-interest financing for producers to build or upgrade farm storage and handling facilities.

  • Guaranteed Farm Loans
    FSA guaranteed loans provide lenders with a guarantee of up to 95 percent of the loss of principal and interest on a loan. Farmers and ranchers apply to an agricultural lender, which then arranges for the guarantee.

  • Rural Business and Industry Guaranteed Loans
    Loans aimed at improving economic and environmental climate in rural communities. Funds may be used for buying a business to keep it from closing; purchasing land, buildings, machinery or equipment; and related activities.

  • Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers
    Makes and guarantees loans to approved socially disadvantaged applicants to buy and operate family-size farms and ranches.

  • Sugar Storage Facility Loan Program
    Loans to processors of domestically-produced sugarcane and sugar beets for the construction or upgrading of storage and handling facilities for raw sugars and refined sugars.

Back to top




Back to top




Back to top


Environmental Compliance


Back to top


Farm Bill

  • Conservation Security Program
    Explains a voluntary program authorized under the Farm Bill that provides financial and technical assistance to promote the conservation on Tribal and private working lands.

  • Farm Bill Web Portal
    Outlines provisions on commodity programs, trade, conservation, credit, agricultural research, food stamps and marketing.


Back to top




Back to top



  • Environmental Requirements for the Forestry Industry
    Offers information about environmental requirements relating specifically to establishments that operate timber tracts, tree farms, forest nurseries, and related activities.

  • Guide to Exporting Solid Wood Products
    Provides guide for U.S. wood products producers interested in export markets, and an overview of the necessary steps to develop a successful export marketing strategy.

  • OSHA eTool: Logging
    Contains an OSHA eTool that outlines the required and recommended work practices that can reduce logging hazards while performing manual or mechanical logging operations. The eTool describes how to develop a safety and health management plan and gives examples of generic safety and health program topics for the logging industry.

  • Plant Protection and Quarantine Permit FAQs : Timber or Timber Products
    List frequently asked questions and answers for imported timber and timber products.


Back to top


Fruits and Vegetables


Back to top



Details requirements that must be met by individuals or companies exporting grain, oilseeds, or related commodities from the U.S. The requirements vary based on whether the commodity is covered by the United States Grain Standards Act (USGSA) or the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (AMA).

  • Grain Exporter Registration
    Explains the United States Grain Standards Act, which requires the registration of all persons engaged in the business of buying grain for sale in foreign commerce. In addition, those individuals who handle, weigh, or transport grain for sale in foreign commerce must register.

  • Grain Inspection and Weighing Services
    Provides inspection services on grains, pulses, oilseeds, and processed and graded commodities to facilitate marketing of U.S. grain and other commodities from farmers to domestic and international end users.

  • Grain, Rice & Pulses: Designation Information and Applications
    Provides an overview of the United States Grain Standards Act, which allows the Grain Packers, Inspection, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) to designate persons, states, or local governments to provide official inspection and weighing services for a period up to a three years.

  • Official Weighing Services
    Offers a summary of the official grain weighing process for the GIPSA.

  • Plant Protection and Quarantine Permit FAQs: Rice and Rice Related Articles
    Lists frequently asked questions and answers about importing rice and rice products.


Back to top



  • Environment Compliance Guide for Nurseries and Greenhouses
    Details the environmental requirements specifically relating to the production of many types of agricultural crops grown in nurseries and greenhouses, such as ornamental plants and specialty fruits and vegetables.

  • Phytosanitary Certificates and the Import and Export of Plants and Plant Products
    Lists frequently asked questions regarding the regulations for importing plant and plant products into the U.S. and the use of phytosanitary (plant health) certificates to ensure that products imported are free of pests.

  • Plant Protection and Quarantine
    Covers the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's efforts to safeguard agriculture and natural resources from the risks associated with the entry, establishment, or spread of animal and plant pests and noxious weeds to ensure an abundant, high-quality, and varied food supply.

  • Plant Variety Protection Office
    Details the Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA), which involves issuance of Certificates of Protection. The Act provides legal intellectual property rights protection to developers of new varieties of plants which are sexually reproduced (by seed) or tuber-propagated.


Back to top


International Trade


Back to top




Back to top


Organic Food


Back to top




Back to top



  • Packers and Stockyards Program
    Gives general regulatory information for poultry growers and firms.

  • Poultry Grading and Certification
    Outlines certification requirements. Chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, guineas, and pigeons are all eligible for grading and certification services provided by the AMS Poultry Programs' Grading Branch.

  • Poultry Quality Standards
    Details quality standards established by AMS Poultry Programs to help facilitate the marketing of poultry, rabbits, and shell eggs among buyers and sellers.


Back to top




Back to top




Back to top


Veterinary Medicine


Back to top