Business management and financing resources
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
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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.
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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 when 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
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
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.Government loans and loan guaranteesNorthwest Farm Credit ServicesUSDA Farm Service AgencyUSDA Rural DevelopmentBusiness OregonEconomic Development DistrictsCouncils of GovernmentsPrivate lendingHarvest Capital CompanyOregon Bankers Association member banks
Pacific Intermountain Mortgage CompanyPrudential Agriculture Investment OfficeRabo AgrifinanceNational FundingNon-traditional lending sourcesCraft3Mercy Corps NW micro-loans and other micro-finance toolsAdelante MujeresPSU Business Outreach ProgrameDevNEDCONeighborWorksRSF Social FinanceNon-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.
Grant and technical assistance programs
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Business development and marketing grants
Value added producer grant program
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
Local and domestic marketing assistance
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Western region sustainable agriculture research and education grants
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
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
Risk management plans and insurance
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.
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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
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.
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offers a variety of degree programs in agricultural science, animal
science, natural resource management, and business management.
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.
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.
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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.