This is a list of financial and educational resources to help young and beginning farmers get started, in the US and Canada.
1. Farm Service Agency Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Loans. This is an under $300,000 loan for small family farmers who have been farming less than 10 years. This can also be used to purchase a farm if you have 5% of the purchase price. To apply, find your home state's local FSA office.
2. The Small Business Administration. One of the first steps to starting a farm business is having a concrete business plan. This is one of the best websites for free help with that, and offers many grants to start a business (including farms).
3. National Farm Transition Network. A national network of state-run farm succession programs. This organization works to link retiring farmers with beginning farmers so that farmland isn't lost. Go to the network participants page to find local organizations.
4. Rural Enterprise Assistance Project. They provide small loans for rural enterprises, and help with the business plan and other small business issues.
5. National Council of State Agricultural Finance Programs. They try to find new ways to finance farmers. Check out their list of state programs.
6. Beginning Farmers. Resources and networking for potential farmers, educators and other people, with financing and educational links.
7. Farmers for the Future. A social networking site for young and beginning farmers. Kind of a laid back, country MySpace.
8. Farm incubators... I don't have a specific resource for this. Type it into Google and see what you can find in your local area. These are farms that offer land and support to young farmers for cheap.
9. The Greenhorns. A documentary film about the lives of young farmers. This website also has a variety of resources for networking, and a guide for young farmers starting out. The trailer of the documentary is below:
Canada has fewer resources, but there are a some good ones:
1. Farm Choices. A site that has a business plan builder specifically for new farmers, and some helpful information about what it takes to have a farm business.
2. Farm Start. This has a lot of information for new farmers, but most exciting, it runs two incubator farms in Ontario. These are places that young people can come to them with a business plan and get affordable access to land for their farm business. I think this is one of the best ideas to get young people started in farming.
3. Farm Credit Canada. They offer farm loans to beginning farmers, and also offer a transition loan for retiring farmers looking to pass down their farms.