Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Site Image
Business management and financing resources

Business plans

Writing a business plan is vital for any farm, ranch, or food business. Business plans are generally required to secure financing. They can help you thoroughly think through your operation and identify areas of vulnerability as well as emerging opportunities. They are also a useful reference as you implement projects and make business decisions.

Many universities, agencies, and other organizations offer business planning resources. The Small Business Administration provides guidelines on how to develop a business plan. Your Guide to FSA Farm Loans, published by the USDA Farm Service Agency, also includes a list of several business planning resources.

Back to Top

Loan programs

This section provides an overview of the loan application process and includes links to several institutional sources of credit.

Applying for a loan
All lenders will request credit information w​hen you apply for an agricultural loan. Lenders will also expect prospective borrowers to have a business plan.

An evaluation of creditworthiness includes a review of your credit history, repayment record, experience, and training. Generally, lenders will obtain a credit report from a credit reporting agency to review your credit history. You may want to obtain a credit report for your own use to verify the information. Errors are not uncommon and people have found they cannot get loans because of a faulty credit report. Experian and NACM-Oregon are both credit reporting companies that can provide you a copy of your report. Usually a fee of about $30 is required.

Depending on the purpose of the loan, lenders may require different financial statements about the operation. We strongly recommend that prospective borrowers complete and evaluate financial forms before making a loan application. By completing forms ahead of time, understanding the records you will need to keep and provide, and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your application, you the borrower will enhance your likelihood of securing a loan as well as your understanding of the lender's decisionmaking process.

USDA Farm Service Agency loan forms provide a good format to evaluate your operation and loan request. Any Northwest Farm Credit Services office or local bank will also have financial forms. Other sources of financial forms include County Extension Offices, Chemeketa Community College Farm Business Management Program in Salem, Blue Mountain Community College Farm Management Program in Pendleton, and Treasure Valley Community College Farm Business Management Program in Ontario.

The two most common statements required by lenders are the balance sheet and the income statement. Some lenders also require a cash flow statement, particularly if the loan is for operating purposes. Lenders are looking to see if the operation can support all necessary operating costs and living expenses, and repay funds in a timely manner.

Beginning and expanding farmer loan program

The Beginning and Expanding Farmer Program (aka Aggie Bond program) is now available in Oregon. The program allows for tax-exempt interest on bonds used to finance loans to a qualified beginning or expanding farm operation. The goal of the program is to allow qualified new and expanding farm operations to access lower-interest loans. For more information and an application form, visit the Business Oregon Beginning and Expanding Farmer Loan Program​ web site.

Government loans and loan guarantees

Northwest Farm Credit Services
USDA Farm Service Agency
USDA Rural Development
Business Oregon
Economic Development Districts
Councils of Governments

Private lending
Harvest Capital Company
Oregon Bankers Association member banks
Pacific Intermountain Mortgage Company
Prudential Agriculture Investment Office
Rabo Agrifinance
National Funding

Non-traditional lending sources
Mercy Corps NW micro-loans and other micro-finance tools
Adelante Mujeres
PSU Business Outreach Program
RSF Social Finance

Non-commercial sources of credit may also be an option for the prospective borrower. Private transactions, such as land sales contracts, are quite common in Oregon. Also, farm equipment and input dealers often carry lines of credit or financing terms.
Back to Top

Grant and technical assistance programs

Business development and marketing grants

Value added producer grant program
This competitive program, available through USDA Rural Development, provides 50% matching grants to farmers, ranchers, foresters, and fishers. Grants may support planning or working capital projects to implement value-added ventures, as well as for some types of on-farm renewable energy generation projects. The goal of the program is to help agricultural producers generate new products, expand market opportunities, and increase their income from the commodities they produce.

Local and domestic marketing assistance
A variety of resources are available to connect buyers with sellers and to facilitate purchase and sales of Oregon agricultural products.

Oregon Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Development and Marketing program maintains a list of local marketing resources.

Oregon currently offers two state-adminstered federal nutrition programs providing sales opportunities for farmers selling directly to consumers. Learn more about farm direct nutrition programs.

The Oregon farmers markets Web site includes information for consumers and for farmers interested in direct marketing through farmers markets.

ODA export assistance
Learn more about marketing opportunities, educational and promotional events for Oregon and western US agricultural producers and processors. Selected opportunities and events listed are coordinated by the Oregon Department of Agriculture and our local and regional partners.

Some events may be coordinated by other western State Departments of Agriculture as part of our membership in the western US Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA). These events are open to all qualified Oregon agricultural producers and processors.

USDA export assistance
The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) provides a variety of services and programs to assist producers, processors, and other organizations with international market development.

The Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) program is an under-utilized USDA program that may be a valuable grant option for Oregon agriculture and food businesses.
It addresses sanitary and phytosanitary technical barriers to the export of U.S. specialty crops. The program provides funding to U.S. organizations for activities such as seminars and workshops, study tours, field surveys, pest and disease research, and pre-clearance programs.

The Emerging Markets Program (EMP) is another under-utilized program that may be a valuable option for Oregon agriculture. It is
is a market access program that provides funding for technical assistance activities intended to promote exports of U.S. agricultural commodities and products to emerging markets.

The Quality Samples Program (QSP) helps U.S. agricultural trade organizations provide product samples to potential importers overseas. It
also allows manufacturers overseas to do test runs to assess how U.S. food and fiber products can best meet their production needs.

The Foreign Agricultural Service Market Development Programs Web site includes more information on several other programs.

Market development grants

Specialty crop grants

Under the Farm Bill, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) receives grant funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to solely enhance the competitiveness of Oregon's specialty crops. Through the Oregon specialty crop block grant program, ODA conducts an annual competitive application process to award grant funds.

Research and production-related grants

Oregon organic cost-share certification program

The organic cost-share certification program provides reimbursement to growers, processors, and handlers who obtain organic certification from USDA accredited certifiers (certifying to National Organic Program standards).

Fertilizer research grants
The Oregon Department of Agriculture's fertilizer research and development program provides grant monies for field level projects that address the interactions of fertilizers, agricultural minerals, and agricultural amendments with ground or surface water.

Nursery research grants
The nursery research grant program awards grants for research projects and investigations directed toward the prevention and elimination of plant diseases, insect pests, and the development and improvement of cultural methods that are beneficial to the nursery industry.

Small business innovation and research grants
This grant is for entities interested in doing work outlined by federal agencies. Research areas are extensive, and include forests and related resources, plant production and protection, animal production and protection, air, water, and soils, food science and nutrition, rural and community development, aquaculture, industrial applications, marketing and trade, wildlife, animal waste management, and small and mid-size farms.

Natural resource management and conservation grants

Oregon State Weed Board grants
The Oregon State Weed Board grant program provides funding to support noxious weed control projects related to the protection and enhancement of watersheds and fish and wildlife.

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
Oregon's Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program provides cost-share and rental payments to landowners who remove streamside lands from agricultural production, both cropping and grazing. The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and USDA Farm Service Agency jointly fund and administer the program. It has been highly popular in Oregon, with over 40,000 streamside acres enrolled on private lands. For more information, visit your local USDA Service Center.

Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board grants
The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board provides grants for watershed restoration, land acquisitions, monitoring, and other activities that support healthy watersheds. Local organizations, including watershed councils and soil and water conservation districts, may assist private landowners with project design and preparing grant applications.

Oregon office of USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service programs
The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service provides many different cost-share programs directly to private landowners and to organizations to support natural resources stewardship and conservation on private lands. Visit the Oregon office of the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service for a list of programs and more information about funding availability and the application process.

Oregon office of the USDA-Farm Service Agency programs
In addition to the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, which is jointly administered by the Farm Service Agency and the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, FSA administers the Conservation Reserve Program. Visit the Oregon Farm Service Agency Web site for more information about these programs or find your local USDA Service Center.

US Bureau of Reclamation water use efficiency programs
The US Bureau of Reclamation supports water conservation and helps water managers make wise decisions about water use. BOR administers several types of WaterSMART grants, including water and energy efficiency grants.

Western region sustainable agriculture research and education grants
The goal of Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education is to foster sustainability through grants that enable cutting-edge research and education to open windows on sustainability across the west. Western SARE offers five types of grants, with different application periods for each type of grant. Visit the western SARE Web site for more information about grant programs and application timelines.

Soil and Water Conservation District assistance
Oregon's Soil and Water Conservation Districts are local governments led by locally elected, volunteer boards of directors. They assist private landowners with natural resource management on their lands. Districts can help private landowners access several of the programs described on this Web site, and some also have their own grant programs for conservation projects. Visit the Oregon Association of Conservation Districts Web site to find your local Soil and Water Conservation District.

Back to Top

Risk management plans and insurance

A good business plan should identify risks to the business and strategies to manage those risks. The following are just a few risk management planning tools for agricultural businesses.

Insurance is a critical piece of your risk management strategy. Federal insurance programs are available to help producers plan for both natural and market-based risks.
  • Take a look at the Oregon state crop insurance profile (97k pdf) to determine the availability for RMA's crop specific multi-peril policies in your area, or visit RMA's insurance policies Web site
  • Two federal programs, Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) and AGR-Lite, offer options for specialty crop producers to protect against market AND production risks in one whole-farm package. AGR and AGR-Lite policies offer whole-farm revenue protection against low revenue due to unavoidable natural disasters and market fluctuations that affect income during the insurance year.
  • USDA-RMA also has insurance products for livestock producers. Read an article about Oregon producers' experience with livestock insurance programs.

Back to Top

Business education resources

The Oregon State University Small Farms program offers workshops for beginning and small farmers,and presents an annual Small Farms Conference for agripreneurs of all levels of farming experience.

Oregon State University offers a variety of degree programs in agricultural science, animal science, natural resource management, and business management.
Eastern Oregon University is launching an agribusiness degree program at its Hermiston campus.
The following Oregon community colleges offer agriculture programs.
The following organizations offer farm incubator programs. These programs provide agripreneurs the opportunity to rent farmland and equipment, gain experience, and access other training and resources.
You can also gain experience working on a farm as an employee or apprentice. Visit the National Center for Appropriate Technology and the ODA farm internships Web sites for more information on farm internships. The Capital Press classified section includes farm employment opportunities.
Future Farmers of America provides hands-on learning to high school students in agriculture and business management. Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation and 4-H provide youth an introduction and hands-on opportunities in agriculture.
If you are a farm operator interested in hiring non-family related youth under age 18 (14-17), they will need to obtain a tractor safety training certification. ODA has compiled a list of known programs around the state offered by FFA, OSU Extension, and community colleges.
Additional information about employing minors is available on ODA's regulations Web site.

Back to Top

Succession planning

Over the next decade, nearly 50 percent of Oregon's agricultural land will change hands. It takes years to transfer the wealth of experience and knowledge from one generation to the next. A variety of resources can help retiring farmers and the next generation of farmers work together to plan successful farm transitions.

The Austin Family Business Program at Oregon State University offers classes and online materials to all types of family businesses. Oregon State University's Agriculture and Resource Economics Department (OSU-AREC) created a series of online videos titled A family legacy: succession planning for ranch and farm owners. Materials from a series of succession planning workshops developed bvy OSU-AREC are available on the project Web site.

Farm Journal's Legacy Project Web site includes articles and other resources regarding farm transition.
Back to Top

Contact us

Jerry Gardner, Business Development Manager
(503) 872-6608

Stephanie Page, Special Assistant to the Director
(503) 986-4558
Back to Top