Friends of Family Farmers – Promoting and Protecting Socially Responsible Farming in Oregon.


Financing Resources

Finding financing for a small farm is one of the most challenging obstacles for agricultural entrepreneurs.  There aren’t many options, the options that exist are often reluctant to invest in agriculture, especially in beginning farmers, and few farmers have the experience and specialized knowledge to assemble a loan application with ease.  The following resources include traditional and creative ways to finance your farm, as well as pointers for preparing a successful loan application.

Government Financing Programs:

freddyguyorchardFederal Programs

  • Farm Credit Services (FCS) – a network of borrower-owned lending institutions and supporting organizations that specialize in loans to farmers and ranchers.  See also FCS’s financing options for Young, Beginning, Small, and Minority Farmers, including: loans for real estate purchases; credit for operating expenses; financing for livestock and machinery; and refinancing. See the AgVision program, which offers financing with less restrictive underwriting standards, the JumpStart program which funds working capital up to $100,000, and the RateWise program, which offers interest rate discounts for participation in subsidized financial educational programs.
  • Farm Service Agency (FSA) – makes direct and guaranteed farm-ownership and operating loans to family-size farmers and ranchers who cannot obtain commercial credit from a bank, FCS institution, or other lender.  FSA loans can be used to purchase land, livestock, equipment, feed, seed, and supplies, or used to construct buildings or make farm improvements.  To find out more about the program, contact your local USDA Service Center by clicking here>>> Read also the Farmers’ Legal Action Group’s (FLAG’s) Farmers’ Guide to FSA
  • USDA Microloan Program – operating loans of up to $50,000. Preference for veterans, and socially disadvantaged producers.  Apply through your local FSA office.
  • USDA Rural Development offers a Business and Industry Loan Guarantee (B&I) through their Local and Regional Food Enterprise Initiative – guarantees commercial loans for food enterprises based in or benefiting rural communities.
  • USDA Rural Development Single Family Housing Programs provide homeownership opportunities to low- and moderate-income rural Americans through several loan, grant, and loan guarantee programs. The programs also make funding available to individuals to finance vital improvements necessary to make their homes decent, safe, and sanitary.
  • Conservation Loan Program:  administered by FSA, this program provides direct loans of up to $300,000 (not currently available) and guaranteed loans of up to $1.2 million.  The Conservation Loan Program includes a priority for loans to beginning farmers and ranchers and socially disadvantaged farmer or ranchers.  However, USDA’s regulations for the program also provide an advantage to wealthier farmers and ranchers in the form of a streamlined application for loans and the waiver of FSA’s normal requirement that borrowers cannot own larger than family sized farms.
  • Rural Energy for America Program (REAP): provides guarantees to commercial lenders on loans for the purchase and installation of renewable energy generating systems or energy efficiency improvements. This assistance is limited to loan to small businesses and farmers & ranchers. Projects must be located in a rural area.  There is an exception for ag producers. REAP guaranteed loans may finance up to 75% of such a project.
  • Rural Energy Efficiency Loan Program: developed in 2014 to help lower electricity rates in partnership with rural electric cooperatives.

For federal grants, see our Grants page>>

State Programs

The 2013 Oregon Legislature created Oregon’s first loan program for beginning farmers and ranchers, called Aggie Bonds. Aggie Bonds use the state’s federal bonding authority to allow lenders to significantly lower the interest rate on loans to qualifying farmers and ranchers. Loans can be for farm land, farm improvements, or new and used depreciable property. This program is up an running and details, including application materials, can be found at Business Oregon’s Aggie Bond web pageBusiness Oregon also administers other programs that farmers or local food businesses might qualify for, including:

  • The Entrepreneurial Development Loan Fund (EDLF) – direct loans of up to $75,000 to start-ups and small businesses that have either made less than $500,000 in the past 12 months, or are owned by a severely disabled person.
  • Capital Access Program (CAP) – creates a loan loss reserve account that the lender can apply future losses against.  This assurance of payment helps borrowers get their foot in the door of traditional financing institutions.  Most loans and lines of credit enrolled in the program are under $100,000, and there is a 3% enrollment fee.
  • Credit Enhancement Fund (CEF) - a loan insurance program that, like CAP creates access to financing for borrowers who might not otherwise qualify for traditional financing.  The average request is between $300,000 and $400,000 and the enrollment fee varies between 1.5 and 6%.
  • Oregon Business Development Fund – a direct loan program that gives preference to companies 1) with 100 or fewer employees, 2) in rural or distressed areas, 3) that exports some goods out of state.  Loans are limited to $700,000.

What are other states doing?

  • 38 states have active state-level economic development tools specifically for farmers.
  • Beginning Farmer Tax Credits – Iowa and Nebraska offer a tax credit to landowners who lease their land, depreciable machinery, breeding livestock, and/or buildings to beginning farmers.
  • The Bank of North Dakota (BND) is the only publicly-owned state bank in the US.  The state deposits all of its money (except pension funds) with BND.  Local banks originate the loan, then invite BND to finance a portion of it.  BND is run as a for-profit and has generated over $300 million in profit for the state’s general fund over the last decade.  To read more about the BND, click here>>>

Oregon Community Banks & Credit Unions with Above Average Ag Lending:

Rank Oregon Headquartered Banks Total assets (000s) Total ag loans (000s) Ag loans as % of bank assets Branch Locations
1 Bank of Eastern Oregon $252,007 $99,919 40% Gorge, Eastern
2 Community Bank $362,034 $65,382 18% Eastern
3 Centerpointe Community Bank $77,362 $13,309 17% Gorge
4 Citizens Bank $428,525 $69,100 16% Salem/McMinnville, Corvallis/Albany, Eugene/Springfield, PDX
5 Willamette Community Bank $80,424 $7,130 9% Corvallis/Albany
6 Washington Federal $860,000 $54,137 6% Central, Southern
7 Oregon Coast Bank $158,265 $9,358 6% North Coast
8 Columbia Bank $2,458,268 $123,013 5% North Coast, PDX, Salem/McMinnville, Eugene/Springfield, Central

Other Community Banks and Credit Unions include: Old West CUOregon First Community CU, Umpqua Bank, St. Helens Community CU, SELCO Community CU, Pacific NW CU and TLC CU.

Community Development Financial Institutions – Lenders with Extra Programs/Flexibility:

  • Albina Opportunities Corporation – PDX Metro businesses owned by women, minority and immigrant populations, as well as business operating in low-to moderate-income census tracts.
  • Craft 3 – Statewide lending and business assistance to entrepreneurs, non-profits, individuals and others who don’t normally have access to financing in order to strengthen economic, ecological and family resilience.
  • Community Lending Works – Lending work includes small loans and technical assistance to very small businesses in rural portions of the Mid-Willamette Valley.
  • MercyCorps NW – Assists low-income current and aspiring small-business owners throughout Oregon and Washington to increase economic self-sufficiency and community integration through microenterprise development and self-employment.
  • One PacificCoast Bank – Operates from a triple-bottom-line measuring its financial, social and environmental impact to meet the needs of its communities.

Individual Development Accounts (IDAs):

IDAs are partially federally-funded programs that match participants’ savings for qualifying investments in home ownership, education and small business.  Qualified small business expenses are asset purchases, including capital, plant, equipment, working capital, inventory and/or licenses, but not real estate.  Match ratios and caps on total savings vary depending on the IDA provider.  The matched savings are held in a separate account from the participant’s account.  When the IDA participant has accumulated enough savings and matching funds to purchase the asset (after 6 months, but no later than 5 years) and has completed all required financial education courses, then the participant can arrange for payments from the matched account to be made directly to the vendor for the qualifying asset(s).

The applicant must be working-poor (eligible for TANF or EITC, or have an income that is equal to or less than 200% of the federal poverty level).  Applicants must complete financial education courses, and create a business plan while they are saving.

Oregon offers Income Tax benefits for participants in IDAs.  Oregon allows a subtraction on your tax return for deposits into your IDA through the Neighborhood Partnership Fund, and qualifying withdrawals are tax-free (ORS 316.848).  To read more, click here>>>

Listed here are some providers of small business IDAs in Oregon.

  1. Adelante Mujeres (administered by Adelante Mujeres) – Maximum savings are $12,000 ($3,000 personal savings + $9,000 matched funds). Serves Washington & Yamhill Counties.
  2. Food Roots – Personal savings are a maximum of $1,000 per year for no more than three years. Maximum total savings are $12,000 ($3,000 personal savings + $9,000 matched funds).   In Clatsop & Tillamook Counties.
  3. Hacienda CDC in Multnomah County
  4. Housing Authority of Jackson County (HAJC)
  5. Illinois Valley Business Entrepreneurial Center (IVBEC) in Josephine County
  6. Microenterprise Services of Oregon (MESO) in Multnomah & Washington Counties
  7. Mid-Columbia Housing Authority in Hood River, Sherman and Wasco Counties.
  8. Northeast Oregon Economic Development District (NEOEDD) in Baker, Union & Wallowa Counties
  9. Salem-Keizer Community Development Corporation (SKCDC) in Benton, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Polk & Yamhill Counties
  10. Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services in Benton & Linn Counties
  1. Access Helps – Jackson & Josephine Counties
  2. NeighborImpact – Deschutes, Crook & Jefferson Counties
  3. South Central Oregon Economic Development District (SCOEDD) – Klamath & Lake Counties

If your non-profit or state, local, or Tribal government is interested in using available federal funds to create an IDA through the Assets for Independence program under the US Department of Health & Human Services, click here for more information.


  • Business Loan Funds offers a loan of $1,000 – $35,000 to Oregon businesses in Eugene, Junction City, Veneta, Cottage Grove, Florence, McMinnville, Burns, La Grande, Warm Springs Indian Reservation, and Enterprise.
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) provides short-term loans of up to $50,000 (averaging $13,000/loan) to small businesses through intermediary lenders.  Loans may be used for working capital, inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures, machinery and/or equipment, but may NOT be used for real estate, lease improvements that cannot be relocated, or re-financing debt.  Click here for an easy to follow guide to SBA Loans.  SBA lenders in Oregon include:
  1. Equity Trust makes loans that 1) Assist in the permanent protection of land and/or buildings for agriculture, affordable housing, community economic development or other community need; 2) Support the economic vitality of CSA farms or the economic success of projects protecting the affordability and use of land and/or buildings for community benefit; 3) Directly or indirectly enable land reform and promote alternative ownership models.  Loans are for between $5,000 and $150,000 with interest rates typically between 5% and 7% and a term of up to 5 years.
  2. Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (OAME) offers loans of up to $35,000 with 6.5-12% interest rates to small businesses that have been in operation for at least 3 months and are ineligible for traditional bank financing.
  3. Micro Enterprise Capital Access Program (MCAP), the financing arm of Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO), offers loans of up to $50,000 (although most range from $5,000-$20,000) with interest rates of 4.25-8% to small businesses in Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington or Columbia Counties that have been in active operation for at least six months.
  • MercyCorps Northwest – provides loans from $500 to $20,000 for new businesses, and up to $50,000 for businesses in operation for more than one year, with fixed interest rates between 8 and 12%.  Qualifying applicants are small businesses in Oregon and Washington who may not qualify for traditional loans.
  • Local Producer Loan Program – Whole Foods Market offers loans between $1,000 and $100,000 (maximum $25,000 for start-ups) with fixed interest rates, currently between 5% and 9%.  To qualify, the loan must be for expansion and/or capital expenditures, not operating expenses.
  • Farmer Loan Program (Portland-area) – People’s Food Co-op offers a no-interest loans, averaging $1,000 per loan thus far.
  • FACT’s Healthy & Humane Farm Funds Project offers $500-$1,500 per farm for projects designed to either help farms transition to pasture-based systems, or improve their marketing of their humane products, or generally enrich the conditions in which the farm animals are raised.
  • Oregon MicroEnterprise Network (OMEN) – offers Capitallink, a revolving loan fund that provides capital access to Oregon communities who have little or no access to loan programs and cannot access traditional financial services.
  • Prosper is an online community marketplace for peer-to-peer lending without a middleman.  Prosper offers fixed rate, unsecured loans from $2,000 to $25,000 with terms of 1, 3 or 5 years, depending on your “Prosper rating” and loan amount.
  • Funding Circle is an online marketplace where people lend to businesses.
  • Kickstarter, Kiva, Community Sourced Capital, Barnraisr, and Indiegogo are online funding platforms for creative projects.
  • Accion – the largest and only nationwide nonprofit micro- and small business lending network in the United States.
  • RSF Social Finance – an innovative non-profit financial services organization.
  • Pinnacle Business Financing – loans for new and used farm equipment, among other loans.  Contact Jill Ginn,, 800.566.1993, Washington State
  • The Carrot Project – four programs designed to make loans to small and mid-sized farms and farm-related businesses that use sustainable or organic practices and serve local or regional markets.  Funds can be used for working capital, capital needs sucha as equipment or buildings, or other improvements for production or value-added enterprises.  In most programs, value-added enterprises are given preference, but off-farm enterprises are also eligable, providing that inputs are sourced locally.
  • Enterprise for Equity – microloans of up to $25,000 for low-income borrowers.  Borrowers qualify for larger subsequent loans each time they pay off previous ones.  Washington State

Venture Capital:

Other Resources:

*Friends of Family Farmers provides these resources solely for educational purposes. Friends of Family Farmers neither favors nor endorses any of the organizations listed on this website, nor are they responsible for any incorrect information that is listed on the hyperlinked external sites.*

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