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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: 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

COVID-19: Comprehensive Recovery Strategy
Based on the input of our 500+ members, CDFA has developed a set of policy proposals that would allow state and local governments, through development finance agencies, to be immediate problem solvers that can help alleviate the extreme economic challenges facing small businesses and communities to put America securely on the path to recovery.
Economic Recovery and Business Dynamism in Rural AmericaMembers only Login
While the discourse on rural America following the Great Recession has revolved around the resulting lack of jobs and loss of services, the lack of startups and entrepreneurial activity in these communities should not be ignored. Firm growth is a crucial part of economic development, and business creation has been critical in the aftermath of previous recessions. But policies geared toward encouraging startups have not been effective in rural areas, leading to a growing regional divide.
Food & Social Equity: Detroit’s Approach to Financing the Food System
Localized food systems are being developed in communities across the country in order to strengthen local economies, increase entrepreneurship, address social issues, and lessen environmental impacts. At the same time, many places are expanding access to capital and financing programs for those with historically limited access - including people of color, women, immigrants, and low-income populations. During this webinar, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we will hear from speakers working in Detroit, Michigan to correct this inequity through the support and financing of food-related businesses and projects.
View more Agriculture Finance Resources

-Food Systems Finance Resources

Food & Social Equity: Detroit’s Approach to Financing the Food System
Localized food systems are being developed in communities across the country in order to strengthen local economies, increase entrepreneurship, address social issues, and lessen environmental impacts. At the same time, many places are expanding access to capital and financing programs for those with historically limited access - including people of color, women, immigrants, and low-income populations. During this webinar, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we will hear from speakers working in Detroit, Michigan to correct this inequity through the support and financing of food-related businesses and projects.
Food & Social Equity: Detroit’s Approach to Financing the Food System
Localized food systems are being developed in communities across the country in order to strengthen local economies, increase entrepreneurship, address social issues, and lessen environmental impacts. At the same time, many places are expanding access to capital and financing programs for those with historically limited access - including people of color, women, immigrants, and low-income populations. During this webinar, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we will hear from speakers working in Detroit, Michigan to correct this inequity through the support and financing of food-related businesses and projects.
Catalyzing Investment for Food System Projects - HammondMembers only Login
Drew Hammond with U.S. Bank presents on Catalyzing Investment for Food System Projects.
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-Food Financing Programs

Available CFA Resources - New York Regional Economic Development CouncilsMembers only Login
In 2011, Governor Cuomo created ten Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) and the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) to advance the administration’s efforts to improve New York’s business climate and expand economic growth. This 2019 document outlines information about each agency’s grant programs, including eligibility, scoring criteria, applicant requirements, and agency contact information.
Emerging Urban Food Financing Programs - Price Finley, Lance Gilliam, Heather Lepeska, Jenny Osman Members only Login
Price Finley, Lance Gilliam, Heather Lepeska, and Jenny Osman present Emerging Urban Food Financing Programs.
CDFA Food Finance White Paper Series: Food Systems & Investment Tools
This paper continues a white paper series demonstrating the ways in which traditional development financing is already supporting food systems, with a focus on finance tools that help to stimulate investment. An overview of investment tools, such as tax credits and opportunity zones, is provided with examples of current programs as well as an extensive collection of case studies to illustrate how these tools can make an impact.
An Overview of Beginning Farms and FarmersMembers only Login
This report uses information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS, 2013 to 2017) to describe the structural and economic characteristics of beginning farms and illustrate how they differ from more established operations.
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

Food & Social Equity: Detroit’s Approach to Financing the Food System
Localized food systems are being developed in communities across the country in order to strengthen local economies, increase entrepreneurship, address social issues, and lessen environmental impacts. At the same time, many places are expanding access to capital and financing programs for those with historically limited access - including people of color, women, immigrants, and low-income populations. During this webinar, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we will hear from speakers working in Detroit, Michigan to correct this inequity through the support and financing of food-related businesses and projects.
Food & Social Equity: Detroit’s Approach to Financing the Food System
Localized food systems are being developed in communities across the country in order to strengthen local economies, increase entrepreneurship, address social issues, and lessen environmental impacts. At the same time, many places are expanding access to capital and financing programs for those with historically limited access - including people of color, women, immigrants, and low-income populations. During this webinar, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we will hear from speakers working in Detroit, Michigan to correct this inequity through the support and financing of food-related businesses and projects.
CDFA Food Finance White Paper Series: Food Systems & Investment Tools
This paper continues a white paper series demonstrating the ways in which traditional development financing is already supporting food systems, with a focus on finance tools that help to stimulate investment. An overview of investment tools, such as tax credits and opportunity zones, is provided with examples of current programs as well as an extensive collection of case studies to illustrate how these tools can make an impact.
CDBG Partnership Challenges and Opportunities at the Local, State, and Federal LevelsMembers only Login
HUD issued this report in October 2019 to identify opportunities and challenges for Federal, State, and local governments to partner with nonprofit organizations to complete community development, revitalization, and rehabilitation projects using the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.
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-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.
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-Training Courses

The Intro Food Systems Finance Webcourse examines the development finance programs that sustain a local food system and how investments in that system can drive economic development on a broader scale. Topics covered include federal, state, and local sources of capital, stakeholders involved in the financing process, and case study examples that showcase the variety of financing programs.

This course explores how bonds, tax credits, loan programs, foundation grants, and other financing tools can be used to support a local food system and encourage follow-on investment, small business development, and sustainable growth. In particular, this course addresses the financing challenges associated with growing, processing, distributing, marketing, and selling food.

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-Upcoming Events

CDFA Federal Policy Conference (cancelled)
April 14-15, 2020
Washington, DC
The federal government plays a critical role in driving private and public investment in innovation, job creation, infrastructure, and community development. With the 2020 presidential election quickly approaching, development finance will be a key policy issue across the nation. The 116th Congress will also play a major role in shaping our country’s economic development policy going forward. It's up to the development finance community to focus the national discussion on smart federal policy, and CDFA is the voice of the economic development finance community on Capitol Hill. For these reasons, CDFA will host its CDFA Federal Policy Conference on April 14-15 in Washington DC.
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Disaster Recovery for the Food System
Thursday, April 16, 2020
2:00 PM Eastern
During the first installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, we will explore creative financing efforts being launched to support our local food economies during this time of unprecedented crisis.
Register
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: The Landscape of Food Systems Finance
Thursday, May 28, 2020
2:00 PM Eastern
For the second installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, we will present key initiatives and programs being used to finance local food systems, and how CDFA is continuing to prove the food system as an asset class.
Register
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Neighborhood Revitalization Through Food Systems Finance
Thursday, July 30, 2020
2:00 PM Eastern
This installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series will illustrate the many positive impacts that result from financing food systems at a neighborhood scale, with speakers to showcase the versatility of projects and financing approaches.
Register
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Financing Food Systems Entrepreneurs
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
2:00 PM Eastern
During this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, development finance professionals from around the country will describe their strategies for supporting local entrepreneurs in moving their business from idea to execution.
Register
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-Webcasts

CDFA // BNY Mellon Webcast Series: The Food System - Thinking Outside of the SiloMembers only Login
During this installment of the CDFA // BNY Mellon Webcast Series, Barry Kukovich with Peoples Gas, Glenn Ford with InCity Farms and Rick Terrien with Artisan Food Networks, thought outside the silo and recognized the food system as an economic development tool by discussing innovative financing to fill the gaps of regional food systems.
CDFA & OSU Webcast: Using the Successes of Energy Finance to Guide Progress in Food Systems Finance
The CDFA & OSU Webcast was a special one time offering. The webcast covered the Energy Finance Landscape and explored how its successes may be applied to the Food Systems Landscape. This webcast was run by students taking the graduate level Sustainable Financing class in the Department of City and Regional Planning at The Ohio State University.
CDFA // BNY Mellon Webcast Series: Financing Food Systems - Old Problems, New ApproachesMembers only Login
During this installment of the CDFA // BNY Mellon Development Finance Webcast Series, listen to Joe Bute of Hollymead Capital, Larry Yee of the Food Commons, and David Safer of The Bank of New York Mellon discuss food systems finance. From food hubs to experimental local food sourcing programs this webcast will tackle old problems with some new approaches.
CDFA USDA Rural Project Marketplace Information Session
As part of the CDFA & USDA Rural Finance Partnership, a Project Marketplace will be created. This informational video helps explain the partnership and marketplace.
CDFA-Stifel Webcast: Food Systems Investments Driving New MarketsMembers only Login
The third installment of the CDFA-Stifel Rural Community Development Finance Solutions Webcast Series focused on how food systems investments can be used to drive other markets, benefitting the economy of small and rural towns throughout America.

CDFA National Sponsors

  • Baker Tilly Virchow Krause
  • BNY Mellon
  • Bricker & Eckler LLP
  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
  • Business Oregon
  • CohnReznick
  • FBT Project Finance Advisors LLC
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • Frost Brown Todd, LLC
  • Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP
  • Ice Miller LLP
  • KeyBanc Capital Markets
  • Kutak Rock LLP
  • McCarter & English, LLP
  • McGuireWoods
  • MuniCap, Inc.
  • NW Financial Group, LLC
  • Petros PACE Finance
  • SB Friedman Development Advisors
  • Stern Brothers
  • Stifel Nicolaus
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo Securities
  • Wilmington Trust
  • Z. The Bond Buyer
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