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Starting a Farm Business in Virginia

We're delighted with your interest in Virginia agriculture and happy to share some resources to help you explore beginning your own agricultural operation.

Production Resources
In terms of farming assistance, the best place to start on the local level is with Virginia Cooperative Extension.

For farming assistance at the State level, Virginia State University specializes is assisting small farmers and those interested in alternative or specialty agriculture.

If you’re interested in organic farming USDA has great information, and at the State level the Virginia Association for Biological Farming is a good resource. VDACS also offers a cost-share program for obtaining USDA organic certification.

To learn more about the specific area or type of agriculture, one of the best things you can do is talk with people already doing what you are interested in doing.  Ask you Extension Agent for a recommendation or use the Virginia Grown guide to find a like producer.

Business Planning Resources
Starting a farm business is not much different than starting other businesses.  Therefore, you should take advantage of the terrific small business development and entrepreneurial resources available in Virginia.

Three places to look for assistance are:

Another resource for those interested in farming for the first time are “The Small Farm Dream Courses” occasionally offered by the Piedmont Environmental Council.

You also may want to check out the “Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Project” led by Dr. Kim Niewolny at Virginia Tech.  This project is in the process of developing a “Whole Farm Planning” curriculum for beginning farmers like yourself interested in taking the next step.  Click here for the project website.

We are often asked about grants or other sources of “free money” for individuals who want to start farming, such programs do not exist.  There are, however, a variety of low-interest, guaranteed and other loan products available that are well-suited for beginning farmers.

We have compiled a table of the best financing resources for agriculture and forestry businesses, find it here.

That said, we want to highlight two particularly important resources:
The USDA – Farm Service Agency (FSA), which offers a variety of loan programs, including some specifically targeted toward beginning farmers.

To speak with a FSA Farm Loan Manager about your specific situation, contact your local USDA service center.

The US Small Business Administration offers a variety of loan products, which could be appropriate for starting an agricultural enterprise.  To learn more about these programs or to speak with someone in Virginia’s SBA office about your situation, contact the Virginia District office.

Creating the product is one thing, selling it at a worthwhile price is another.  Fortunately, VDACS Direct Marketing Services unit offers a variety of information and assistance for getting your product to market.  Under the Marketing Department you will find two of VDACS signature Marketing programs:

T. Robins Buck
Senior Project Manager
804.371.6094, Cell: 804.840.9449
Fax: 804.371.2945

Stephen Versen
Project Manager
804.786.6911, Cell: 804.382.4023
Fax: 804.371.2945
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