New to Farming Because of the Pandemic? USDA Can Help

By Ciji Taylor, USDA·Sep 02, 2020

Are you new to farming because of the pandemic? USDA can help you get started – everything from helping you register your farm to getting financial assistance and advice. 

Our team members, based at USDA Service Centers across the country, are hearing from people who are interested in more space and working the land, and we want to let you know we can help. 

“Farming means access and availability of food, and a healthy life. It might be the very reason you’re considering taking up the title ‘farmer.’ And here at USDA, we offer a range of services that can help you get started.,” said Carissa Stein, a soil conservationist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Saint Albans, Vermont 

Get Started with USDA

First, you want to make sure your farm is registered. If you purchased land, it might already be established with USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) with farm number on file. If not, FSA can help you register your farm.

To obtain a farm number, you’ll bring an official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID) and a property deed. If you do not own the land, bring a lease agreement to show you have control of the property to your FSA representative. If your operation is incorporated or an entity, you may also need to provide proof that you have signature authority and the legal ability to enter contracts with USDA.

Access to Capital

USDA can provide access to capital through its farm loans, which is a great resource when producers aren’t able to get a loan from traditional lender. Loans can help with purchasing land or equipment or with operating costs, and FSA even offers microloans, which are especially popular among producers with smaller farms. For more information, check out our Farm Loan Discovery Tool.

Conservation Practices

We can help you make conservation improvements to your farm, which are good for your bottom line and your operation. From improving the health and productivity of your soil to making your croplands or grazing lands more resilient, conservation programs offered by NRCS can help. We’ll help you develop a conservation plan as well as apply for financial assistance that’ll cover the bulk of the costs for implementing. To learn more about some of the conservation practices that we help producers with, check out our Conservation at Work Video Series.

If you purchase land, and you don’t want to farm all of it, you can look at either a conservation easement or managing for native shrubs and grasses through either the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program or Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Easements are long-term, while a CRP contract is 10-15 years. These are good options for lands with land that is not optimal for production or sensitive lands like wetlands and grasslands.

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