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Commercial Lending

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund stimulates the creation and expansion of CDFIs by providing incentives to traditional banks and thrifts through the Bank Enterprise Act awards program. The CDFI Fund also provides relatively small infusions of capital to institutions that serve distressed communities and low-income individuals. Technical assistance grants are also provided to strengthen the capacity of community development financial institutions. Banks and thrifts can partner with CDFIs to better meet borrower needs.


USDA Rural Development Business and Industry Guaranteed Loans (PDF) (Community Developments Fact Sheet
February 2010) Learn about a program that guarantees loans made by eligible lenders to rural businesses


Small Business Administration (SBA) administers direct loan and loan guarantee programs for developing and expanding small businesses. Additionally, the SBA administers the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) designed to offer business development assistance to entrepreneurs. SBA's Website contains information on:

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Broadband Loans & Loan Guarantee: This is a Rural Utilities Service Program. The Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program (Broadband Program) furnishes loans and loan guarantees to provide funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide service at the broadband lending speed in eligible rural areas.

The National Council of State Agricultural Finance Programs (NCOSAFP) provides national representation for states that operate finance programs for farmers, ranchers and the agricultural industry. Organized in November 1984, the NCOSAFP is a non-profit organization that provides a forum for sharing ideas and serves as an information clearinghouse for its member state agencies and the general public they serve. The council is also involved in the promotion and support of rural economic development programs. Through the Aggie Bond program, the participating state coordinates the creation of a bond that allows lenders to earn federally-tax exempt interest income on loans to eligible beginning farmers and ranchers.

USDA Business and Cooperative Programs - Promoting a dynamic business environment in rural America is the goal of Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS), Business Programs (BP). BP works in partnership with the private sector and community-based organizations to provide financial assistance, through grants and loans, and business planning. BP helps fund projects that create or preserve quality jobs and/or promote a clean rural environment. The financial resources of RBS BP are often leveraged with those of other public and private credit source lenders to meet business and credit needs in underserved areas. Recipients of these programs may include individuals, corporations, partnerships, cooperatives, public bodies, nonprofit corporations, Indian tribes, and private companies.

USDA's Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program provides business and industry loan guarantees up to 90 percent of a loan made by a commercial lender. Loan proceeds may be used for working capital, machinery and equipment, buildings and real estate, and certain types of debt refinancing. The primary purpose is to create and maintain employment and improve the economic climate in rural communities.

USDA Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, provides funding to organizations that provide training, technical assistance or make small loans to new and existing rural small businesses. The program makes awards quarterly to organizations that give technical assistance and/or small loans to rural small business owners, facilitate access to capital and access to services for rural microenterprises and develop rural entrepreneurs. Organizations eligible to apply for funding include nonprofits, public institutions of higher education, and tribal governments that are not served by a nonprofit development organization. If you are a banker or thrift looking for a local lending partner, the Department of Agriculture provides funding recipients in 36 states. 


The Universities of Vermont has published "The Guide to Financing the Community Supported Farm". The guide details options and considerations for crafting unconventional financial arrangements that have been used in other sectors of the economy, but might be new to the agricultural sector. The 62-page guide addresses legal, accounting, environmental and social considerations relevant to pursuing customized financial agreements, and contains examples of farms that have used alternative financing. Download the rule here.