Amy's Organic Garden owner, Amy Hicks, harvesting the greens at her farm in Charles City, VA.

Farmers Seeking Land

One of the toughest parts of farming and ranching can be finding and accessing the right land to making your farm or ranch business on. As a new and beginning farmer, you need to find the right land, find the right path for you to afford that farmland, make a business plan that reflects the uniqueness of the land and supports your goals and hopes for the farm or ranch, and then make the capital investments in the land that will help you build a profitable and lasting business.

Whether you are starting from scratch, or you are taking over a family operation – USDA has tools that can help you through this initial opportunity phase.

What can USDA offer me?
  • Customer Service: Learn more about how you can connect to farmland in your community by contacting your local Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency county office today. 
  • Conservation Reserve Program Transition Incentives Program: The Transition Incentives Program provides for the transition of expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land from a retired or retiring owner or operator to a beginning, veteran, or underserved farmer or rancher. This program can provide annual rental payments for up to two additional years after the expiration of the CRP contract, provided the transition is not to a family member.
  • Farm Loans: Often called the "lender of first opportunity," USDA makes and guarantees loans to farmers who are unable to obtain financing from commercial lenders. FSA’s lending assistance can be a valuable tool in certain transition situations by helping a producer pay normal operating or family living expenses, purchase and develop farmland, and buy livestock and equipment.
  • FSA Land Contract Guarantees:  FSA land contract guarantees are a tool to help retiring farmers get assurances on the future of their land and financial interests when selling to a new farmer or rancher – and to help new and beginning farmers enter into rent-to-own situations.
    • How it works: A retiring farmer and a new or historically underserved farmer or rancher enter into a contract on a piece of land being sold. The retiring farmer maintains an ownership interest in the land until the completion of the contract. The new farmer purchases interest in the land gradually over the length of the contract. FSA guarantees the payment of a land contract held between the purchaser and seller for 10 years.
    • Benefits to landowner:  Payments on the contract are made as agreed by the landowner and purchasing beginning farmer or rancher, creating long term revenue streams. For many landowners, this can also be a good investment tool as you get a higher interest rate than other types of savings accounts. Landowners can choose between two types of assurances offered, depending on which option of contract you choose (may only choose one):
      • Prompt Payment Guarantee: if the purchaser does not make payments on the account, FSA will make payments on their behalf up to a certain point, in execution of the contract.
      • Standard Guarantee: USDA will pay 90 percent of any losses once the property is sold again.
    • Benefits to new farmer: new farmer has access to an affordable interest rate (not to exceed 3 percent above FSA’s direct farm ownership interest rate); they are able to purchase land on installment; and, it requires a smaller down payment than conventional real estate loans.
    • For more info, please visit your local FSA office.

The Tree and Leaf Farm operated by owners Zachariah Lester and Georgia O'Neal in Waterford, VA.

Key Resources from Partners