The mission of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is to provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management. Through its several agencies, offices, programs and services, the USDA provides a wide variety of financial resources. These financial resources, including tax incentives, grant, loans, capacity building, among others, are provided in order to assist the economic development of rural communities, conservation of natural resources, improving housing options, and strengthening local and regional food systems.
Rural Community Development Initiative Grants
The aim of these grants is to support the development and ability of private, nonprofit community-based housing and community development organizations, and low income rural communities to improve housing, community facilities, community and economic development projects in rural areas.
Rural Business Development Grants
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.
Rural Cooperative Development Grants
Supports the creation or improvement of cooperative development centers that help start, enhance, or expand rural businesses, especially cooperatives.
Value-Added Producer Grants
Supports planning activities, such as business plan development, and provide working capital for value-added processing and marketing which helps farmers and ranchers receive a higher portion of the retail dollar. Specific funds are available for projects that focus on local and regional supply networks and support beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and small- or medium-sized farms and ranches.
The Rural Energy for America Program
Provides loan guarantees and grants to agricultural producers and small businesses in rural areas to purchase, install, and construct renewable energy systems; make energy efficiency improvements to non-residential buildings and facilities; use renewable technologies that reduce energy consumption; and participate in energy audits, renewable energy development assistance, and feasibility studies.
Single Family Housing Programs
Provides home ownership opportunities to low- and moderate-income rural Americans through several loan, grant, and loan guarantee programs targeted specifically to the needs of rural communities and households. The programs also offer funding to individuals to finance vital improvements that will make their homes decent, safe, and sanitary.
Multifamily Housing Programs
Multifamily housing loans, loan guarantees, grants, and rental assistance. Some funds may also be used to buy and improve land and to provide necessary facilities such as water and waste disposal systems.
Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG)
The REDLG program provides funding to rural projects through local utility organizations. Under the REDLoan program, USDA provides zero interest loans to local utilities which they, in turn, pass through to local businesses (ultimate recipients) for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas.
Rural Development Loan Assistance
Provides direct or guaranteed loans, grants, technical assistance, research and educational materials for rural development initiatives.
Business and Industry Guaranteed Loans
Provide guarantees on loans made by private lenders to help new and existing businesses in rural areas gain access to affordable capital. By issuing a guarantee, USDA essentially co-signs the loan with the recipient, lowering the lender’s risk and allowing for more favorable interest rates and terms.
Intermediary Relending Program
Provides loans to local organizations, or intermediaries, for the establishment of revolving loan funds. These revolving loan funds are used to finance business and economic development activity that creates or retains jobs in disadvantaged and remote communities.
Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program
Supports small business development in rural areas. Loans and grants are provided to Microenterprise Development Organizations which in turn provide loans and technical assistance to microentrepreneurs—including farmers—for developing their businesses. Loans may be used for working capital, debt refinancing, business acquisitions, and to purchase equipment or real estate, and grants support technical assistance and training.
Utilities and Energy Efficiency
A variety of programs to support drinking water, sanitary sewer, solid waste, and storm drainage facilities in rural areas and cities and towns of 10,000 people or less.