United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

While not commonly associated with businesses not related to agriculture, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does in fact provide a variety of funding sources and programs for small businesses, mostly in rural areas.

Business Programs provide financial backing and technical assistance to stimulate business creation and growth. The programs work through partnerships with public and private community based organizations and financial institutions to provide financial assistance, business development, and technical assistance to rural businesses. These programs help to provide capital, equipment, space, job training, and entrepreneurial skills that can help to start and/or grow a business. Business Programs also support the creation and preservation of quality jobs in rural areas.

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Loans, loan guarantees, and grants are available to individuals, businesses, cooperatives, farmers and ranchers, public bodies, non-profit corporations, Native American Tribes, and private companies in rural communities. The financial resources of the Business Programs are often leveraged with those of other public and private credit source lenders to meet business and credit needs in under-served areas. The funding is intended to help improve the quality of life in rural communities by enhancing economic opportunities and ensuring self-sustainability for generations to come.

USDA Direct

All programs marked with this icon require you to apply for the program through your local USDA office directly.

These programs usually provide financial assistance (loans, grants or guarantees) to the applicant.

Assistance Only

All programs marked with this icon only provide you with technical assistance, but include no financial assistance (loans, grants or guarantees).

The program is usually administered via so-called intermediaries and not through USDA directly.

Intermediary Contact

All programs marked with this icon provide you with financial and/or technical assistance but approvals are not done by USDA.

Instead, these programs are administered via so-called intermediaries, which are also responsible for the application approvals.

Business Programs

Business & Industry Loan Guarantees (B&I)

What does this program do?

This program bolsters the availability of private credit by guaranteeing loans for rural businesses.

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Fact Sheet - USDA - Business - B&I

Intermediary Relending Program (IRP)

What does this program do?

Provides 1 percent low-interest loans to local intermediaries that re-lend to businesses to improve economic conditions and create jobs in rural communities.

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Fact Sheet - USDA - Business - IRP

Rural Business Development Grants (RBDG)

What does this program do?

This program is a competitive grant designed to support targeted technical assistance, training and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas which will employ 50 or fewer new employees and has less than $1 million in gross revenue. Programmatic activities are separated into enterprise or opportunity type grant activities.

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Fact Sheet - USDA - Business - RBDG

Rural Economic Development Loan & Grant Program (REDLG)

What does this program do?

USDA provides grants to local utility organizations which use the funding to establish revolving loan funds (RLF). Loans are made from the revolving loan funds to projects that will create or retain rural jobs. When the revolving loan fund is terminated, the grant is repaid to USDA.

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Fact Sheet - USDA - Business - RBIP

Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP)

What does this program do?

Provides loans and grants to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs) in order to provide microloans to help microenterprises startup and growth through a Rural Microloan Revolving Fund, and to provide training and technical assistance to microloan borrowers and micro entrepreneurs

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Fact Sheet - USDA - Business - RMAP

Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG)

What does this program do?

The Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of new products. The goals of this program are to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income. Applicants may receive priority if they are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative, or are proposing a mid-tier value chain. Grants are awarded through a national competition.

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Fact Sheet - USDA - Business - VAPG

Energy Programs

Rural Energy for America Program Energy Audit & Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants (REAP – Audits)

What does this program do?

Grantees assist rural small businesses and agricultural producers by conducting and promoting energy audits, and providing renewable energy development assistance (REDA).

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Fact Sheet - USDA - Energy - REAP (Audit)

Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans & Grants (REAP – Loans & Grants)

What does this program do?

Provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements.

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Fact Sheet - USDA - Energy - REAP (Loans & Grants)

Advanced Biofuel Payment Program (ABFPP)

What does this program do?

Support and ensure an expanding production of advanced biofuels by paying advanced biofuel producers for finished advanced biofuel products.

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Fact Sheet - USDA - Energy - ABFPP

Repowering Assistance Program (RPAP)

What does this program do?

Provides funding for up to 50% of the total eligible project costs for biorefineries to install renewable biomass systems for heating and power at their facilities; or, to produce new energy from renewable biomass.

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Fact Sheet - USDA - Energy - RPAP

Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program (BRCBPMAP)

What does this program do?

This program assists in the development, construction, and retrofitting of new and emerging technologies for the development of Advanced Biofuels, Renewable Chemicals, and Biobased Product Manufacturing by providing loan guarantees for up to $250 million.

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Fact Sheet - USDA - Energy - BRCBPMAP
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