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Food Systems Finance Resource Center

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Food systems are an important driver for local economic development and the financing sources needed to support those systems are vast. Communities throughout the country are financing their food system with various innovative strategies to support local markets, first time farmers, new food enterprises, and neighborhoods lacking access to fresh foods.


The CDFA Food Systems Finance Resource Center outlines development finance tools that can be used to support local food systems, such as bonds, tax increment finance, tax credits, revolving loan funds, and other tools. Traditional development finance tools provide necessary capital for establishing food industry participants, supporting local farming, investing in agriculture infrastructure, financing food scarcity challenges, and starting small food-related businesses. A variety of innovative approaches and creative programs have been employed by development finance agencies to support food systems financing, which can be accessed in the resources provide below.


CDFA sees the potential for the broadly defined food system to become a desired and performance driven asset class. With funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, CDFA is researching how development finance agencies can become more engaged in developing localized food systems through traditional finance approaches. The premise of this initiative is to suggest and then prove that, if organized and defined properly, the food system can become a defined asset class worthy of traditional investment. As part of this initiative, CDFA is currently producing six in-depth white papers that define traditional development finance tools and explain how they can be applied to agri-food businesses, featuring an abundance of case studies.


Learn more about CDFA's initiative to define the food system as an asset class

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-Defining the Food System as an Asset Class

CDFA is producing six in-depth white papers defining how traditional development finance tools can be used to demonstrate the viability of the food system as an asset class. The first white paper is an overview of development finance with an explanation of why and how these tools can be applied to the food system. The next four white papers will provide an extensive description of development finance tools that can be employed for food-related projects – access to capital, bedrock tools, targeted tools, and investment tools – alongside comprehensive case studies that successfully utilize each of these tools. The final white paper will conceptualize the future possibilities of the food system financing landscape.

Learn more about CDFA's initiative to define the food system as an asset class

CDFA Food Finance White Paper Series: Advancing Food Systems Through Development Finance
This is the sixth and final white paper in a series examining the potential creation of a food systems asset class that supports the market growth of local and regional food systems. This paper presents three replicable strategies for restoring local food systems: reframe food systems development as infrastructure and economic development; build effective relationships and partnerships across the entire food system; and plan for strategic food system financing.
CDFA Food Finance White Paper Series: Food Systems & Targeted Tools
This white paper is part of a series examining the potential creation of a food systems asset class which supports the market growth of local and regional food systems. This paper focuses specifically on targeted financing tools that can be used to geographically target local and regional food system developments.
CDFA Food Finance White Paper Series: Food Systems & Bonds
Researched and written by CDFA, this is the third white paper in a series examining the potential creation of a food systems asset class that supports the market growth of local and regional food systems. This paper focuses specifically on bond financing, which CDFA considers a ‘bedrock tool’ for the historic and foundational role bonds have played in public financing.
CDFA Food Finance White Paper Series: Food Systems & Access to Capital
Research and written by CDFA, this white paper is part of a series examining the potential creation of a food systems asset class which supports the market growth of local and regional food systems which meet the economic, social, environmental, and cultural needs of communities throughout the country. This paper focuses specifically on financing that provides access to capital, outlining this category of tools and demonstrating how they can be utilized for various types of food-related endeavors.
CDFA Food Finance White Paper Series: Food Systems & Development Finance
Many food-related initiatives, projects, and businesses have lacked sufficient resources and financing for economic and community development, largely because the food system as a whole has not been formally defined as an asset class. As the first part of a series, CDFA makes the case for a clear definition of the food system that directs development finance to food-related activity.
Read more about Food Systems Finance

-Resources

View all Food Systems Finance Resources

-Agriculture Finance Resources

Investing in Regenerative Agriculture Infrastructure Across Value ChainsMembers only Login
Regenerative farms rely on small-to-mid scale, aligned infrastructure to process, transport, and market their products. These middle infrastructure businesses help to improve farm income and bolster regional food economies while providing significant social and environmental benefits. However, their unique business models require innovative and patient forms of capital to grow and succeed. This report identifies finance opportunities and pathways to build resilient value chains for regenerative farms.
Food Innovation: Investing to Feed Our FutureMembers only Login
The Franklin Templeton Institute, a global investment management organization, released its latest insights paper, “Food innovation: Investing to feed our future,” focusing on the innovation and investments needed to feed a growing global population in the face of climate change and geopolitical conflict.
Stronger Together - Federal Funding and Planning Strategies for Rural AmericaMembers only Login
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development and U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) launched a joint resource guide to help community organizations access USDA and EDA resources to build strategies to boost economic development in rural America. The guide outlines programs and services that can be used to advance community and economic development in rural communities through four key focus areas and features information and links to USDA and EDA key priorities and resources.
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Driving Investment in Regional Food Supply Chains
During this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, speakers discuss opportunities to access capital and leverage federal funds to support new investments in regional infrastructure for food aggregation, processing, storage, and more.
Debunking Risk in Food System Lending
Food and agriculture-related businesses are often perceived as too risky for traditional lending approaches, yet CDFA research tells a different story. This report, with loan-level data from over a thousand funds nationwide, demonstrates that food system loans perform and that revolving loan funds can successfully support local food system borrowers in their communities.
View more Agriculture Finance Resources

-Food Systems Finance Resources

Investing in Regenerative Agriculture Infrastructure Across Value ChainsMembers only Login
Regenerative farms rely on small-to-mid scale, aligned infrastructure to process, transport, and market their products. These middle infrastructure businesses help to improve farm income and bolster regional food economies while providing significant social and environmental benefits. However, their unique business models require innovative and patient forms of capital to grow and succeed. This report identifies finance opportunities and pathways to build resilient value chains for regenerative farms.
Food Innovation: Investing to Feed Our FutureMembers only Login
The Franklin Templeton Institute, a global investment management organization, released its latest insights paper, “Food innovation: Investing to feed our future,” focusing on the innovation and investments needed to feed a growing global population in the face of climate change and geopolitical conflict.
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Driving Investment in Regional Food Supply Chains
During this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, speakers discuss opportunities to access capital and leverage federal funds to support new investments in regional infrastructure for food aggregation, processing, storage, and more.
Mobilizing Money & Movements: Creative Finance for Food Systems TransformationMembers only Login
The Global Alliance for the Future of Food and Transformational Investing in Food Systems Initiative (TIFS) released a comprehensive new report that gives investors a roadmap of creative finance strategies that support entrepreneurs, farmers, activists, and social movements and helps to transform food economies towards healthy, equitable, and renewable systems.
Debunking Risk in Food System Lending
Food and agriculture-related businesses are often perceived as too risky for traditional lending approaches, yet CDFA research tells a different story. This report, with loan-level data from over a thousand funds nationwide, demonstrates that food system loans perform and that revolving loan funds can successfully support local food system borrowers in their communities.
View more Food Systems Finance Resources

-Food Financing Programs

Investing in Regenerative Agriculture Infrastructure Across Value ChainsMembers only Login
Regenerative farms rely on small-to-mid scale, aligned infrastructure to process, transport, and market their products. These middle infrastructure businesses help to improve farm income and bolster regional food economies while providing significant social and environmental benefits. However, their unique business models require innovative and patient forms of capital to grow and succeed. This report identifies finance opportunities and pathways to build resilient value chains for regenerative farms.
Mobilizing Money & Movements: Creative Finance for Food Systems TransformationMembers only Login
The Global Alliance for the Future of Food and Transformational Investing in Food Systems Initiative (TIFS) released a comprehensive new report that gives investors a roadmap of creative finance strategies that support entrepreneurs, farmers, activists, and social movements and helps to transform food economies towards healthy, equitable, and renewable systems.
Debunking Risk in Food System Lending
Food and agriculture-related businesses are often perceived as too risky for traditional lending approaches, yet CDFA research tells a different story. This report, with loan-level data from over a thousand funds nationwide, demonstrates that food system loans perform and that revolving loan funds can successfully support local food system borrowers in their communities.
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Financing Food-Centered Redevelopment
During this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, we explored how investing in food-centered redevelopment can restore local food systems infrastructure, catalyze additional neighborhood development, and protect healthy, sustainable communities.
CDFA Reframe, Build, Plan: Restoring America's Local Food Systems
CDFA released the final publication of the CDFA Food Finance White Paper Series, Advancing Local Food Systems Through Development Finance. This webinar provides an overview of this publication as we review CDFA's framework for expanding traditional financing and attracting capital to local food systems through the Reframe, Build, Plan approach.
View more Food System Financing Program Resources

-Programs Map

Search the map below to find food financing programs by state. This specialized search is part of CDFA's State Financing Program Directory, the only online resource cataloging the development finance programs offered by state governments. Click on a state to see a sample of food financing programs available. Login with a CDFA Member account at the top of the page to view full results.

-Case Studies

Investing in Regenerative Agriculture Infrastructure Across Value ChainsMembers only Login
Regenerative farms rely on small-to-mid scale, aligned infrastructure to process, transport, and market their products. These middle infrastructure businesses help to improve farm income and bolster regional food economies while providing significant social and environmental benefits. However, their unique business models require innovative and patient forms of capital to grow and succeed. This report identifies finance opportunities and pathways to build resilient value chains for regenerative farms.
Mobilizing Money & Movements: Creative Finance for Food Systems TransformationMembers only Login
The Global Alliance for the Future of Food and Transformational Investing in Food Systems Initiative (TIFS) released a comprehensive new report that gives investors a roadmap of creative finance strategies that support entrepreneurs, farmers, activists, and social movements and helps to transform food economies towards healthy, equitable, and renewable systems.
How Innovative CDFIs Fund Equitable Food Oriented Development
This report describes how three CDFIs drive economic growth in low-income and historically marginalized communities through a model defined by the EFOD Collaborative as Equitable Food Oriented Development (EFOD). EFOD is a development approach that supports locally owned food-based economies. The report details systemic financial barriers that business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs face in marginalized communities.
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Financing Food-Centered Redevelopment
During this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, we explored how investing in food-centered redevelopment can restore local food systems infrastructure, catalyze additional neighborhood development, and protect healthy, sustainable communities.
More Case Studies

-Headlines

-Publications

Practitioner's Guide to Economic Development Finance
The Practitioner's Guide to Economic Development Finance 2nd Edition is the only comprehensive resource dedicated to building and utilizing the development finance toolbox. The Practitioner's Guide provides the insight and practical information needed to critically understand how economic development is financed and the tools, strategies and techniques used to build strong communities. From bonds, tax increment finance and special districts to tax credits, seed & venture capital, revolving loan funds and much more, this Guide outlines the financing tools required for succeeding in today's competitive economic development climate.
Unlocking Capital: A Handbook for Becoming a High Performing Development Finance Agency
Unlocking Capital: A Handbook for Becoming a High Performing Development Finance Agency (Handbook) serves as a companion to the Practitioner’s Guide to help illuminate the structures of development finance agencies (DFAs), essential conduits to access development finance tools. The Handbook provides an overview of DFAs and their myriad roles in various development efforts. Included in this discussion is a comprehensive look at over a dozen high-performing DFAs throughout the country. The Handbook is designed to be a starting point for local leaders to engage in the creation or acceleration of a DFA to build and utilize the development finance toolbox.
View More Publications

-Webcasts

CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Driving Investment in Regional Food Supply Chains
During this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, speakers discuss opportunities to access capital and leverage federal funds to support new investments in regional infrastructure for food aggregation, processing, storage, and more.
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Where’s the Beef? Financing Meat Processing Infrastructure
During this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, experts discuss financing solutions to reinvest in local meat processing facilities.
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Cultivating Equitable Lending Models in Agriculture Finance
During this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, we discussed strategies to expand access to capital for underserved farmers.
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Debunking Risk in Food System Finance
In this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, we broke down the real and perceived risks of lending and discussed a variety of affordable financing solutions that are being employed by development finance agencies to invest in local food-related businesses and projects.
CDFA // BNY Mellon Development Finance Webcast Series: Unlocking Capital for BIPOC-owned BusinessesMembers only Login
During this installment of the CDFA // BNY Mellon Development Finance Webcast Series, we will be discussing creative financing approaches to minimize barriers and increase access to capital for minority-owned businesses across the country.

CDFA National Sponsors

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  • Bricker & Eckler LLP
  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
  • Business Oregon
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  • KeyBanc Capital Markets
  • Kutak Rock LLP
  • McGuireWoods
  • MuniCap, Inc.
  • NW Financial Group, LLC
  • PGAV Planners, LLC
  • Raza Development Fund
  • SB Friedman Development Advisors
  • Stern Brothers
  • Stifel Nicolaus
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo Securities
  • Z. The Bond Buyer
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