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Applying for Loans and Grants

Tips on applying for USDA loans and grants, preparing a successful application, getting application help and more

USDA Loans and Grants Overview

There are two main types of financial help offered by USDA: grants and loans.

CARES Loan icon

Government Loans

Government loans serve specific purposes such as helping you purchase farm equipment or respond to an emergency. Loans are different from grants because recipients are required to repay loans, often with interest. USDA agencies like the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Rural Development (RD) offer a variety of loans to farmers and ranchers.

CARES Grants icon

Government Grants

A grant is one way the government funds ideas and projects to provide public services and stimulate the economy. Many USDA agencies make funding available by offering grants to a wide range of eligible entities. Organizations that receive this type of funding are not required to repay it. Additionally, grants cannot be used for personal benefits.


Applying for USDA Loans

Below you will find general guidance, common paperwork forms, quick tips and points of contact to assist with your loan application success.

To find a loan that’s right for you, visit the Key Programs Catalog.

USDA Loans General

Guide to FSA Farm Loans
Here you’ll find guidance on:

  • Writing a business plan
  • Preparing for and applying for direct loans, guaranteed loans and land contract guarantees
  • What happens after you apply for a loan or land contract, including what to do if your application is denied

FSA Farm Loan Compass
This guide is for recipients of FSA farm loans. It clarifies the partnership between FSA and the loan recipient and outlines the responsibilities of both parties.

USDA Farming, Housing and Agricultural Loans
Information on the most common grants and loans related to farming at USDA including FSA, Natural Resources and Conservation Services (NRCS), RD, Risk Management Agency (RMA) and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) loans.

Rural Development Loans
Loan information for:

  • Home and housing purchasing and management.
  • Starting and growing a business.
  • Developing and expanding community services.
Common Application Forms

Common Forms for USDA Loans
Common FSA, NRCS and RMA forms on USDA’s eForms database.

USDA’s eForms Database
A database where you can search for and complete forms requesting services from USDA.

Application and Eligibility Assistance

Farm Loan Assistance Tool
Available 24/7, the Loan Assistance Tool is an online step-by-step guide that supplements the support an applicant receives when working in person with a USDA employee, providing materials that may help the applicant prepare their loan application.

USDA Service Center Locator
At a USDA Service Center, customers can access services provided by FSA, NRCS and RD. This site provides the address of a USDA Service Center and other agency offices serving your area and information on how to contact them. Learn more about how to find USDA locations near you.

USDA Income and Property Eligibility Site
This site is used to evaluate the likelihood that a potential applicant would be eligible for program assistance. To be eligible for many USDA loans, household income must meet certain guidelines. Also, the home to be purchased must be located in an eligible rural area as defined by USDA.

Applying for Grants

Below you will find general guidance about grants and how to prepare an application.

To find a grant that’s right for you, visit the Key Programs Catalog.

USDA Grants General

Grant Writing Resources
Scroll down on this page to locate links to full-text, online guides and tips to assist grant writers prepare successful proposals.

A Guide to Funding Resources
Discusses funding and grants, answers questions about the funding process and links to searchable databases that offer funding opportunities.

How To Apply for Federal Grants
An overview of the grant process, including links to learn about grants, understand eligibility, register with, complete your application and track your application.

Grants 101: A Guide to The Agricultural Marketing Service Grant Process
An infographic showing the steps of the AMS grant process.

Agency-Specific Grants

About National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Grants
Lifecycle of grants, upcoming application deadlines, and links to various other grant application and maintenance resources.

NIFA Grants Application Guide
Comprehensive guide to help you prepare and submit grant applications to NIFA through

Rural Development Technical Assistance Grants
RD offers dozens of technical assistance grants on a rotating basis. Here you will find both active and past technical assistance grants and their requirements.

Rural Development Grants
A list of Notices of Solicitation of Applications or Notices of Funding Availability in the Federal Register. These are funding opportunities for grants, loan guarantees and more through RD.

Natural Resources and Conservation Services Technical Assistance Grants
Through NRCS, USDA offers technical assistance services and grants. Here you will find information on services offered, planning and more.

Food and Nutrition Services Grants
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) offers grants on a rolling basis for farm to school programs, nutrition education and more. Here you will find both open and closed grant opportunities with FNS.

AMS Grant Webinars
AMS hosts regular webinars to help applicants understand the AMS grant application process and requirements including eligibility.

Key Points of Contact
Grants Frequently Asked Questions

NIFA Grant Application FAQs FAQs

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Page last updated: January 29, 2024