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Food Systems Finance Resource Center

Food Systems & Development Finance

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 own food systems with various innovative strategies to support local markets, first time farmers, new food enterprises, and neighborhoods lacking food access.


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, special assessment districts, revolving loan funds and others. Traditional development finance tools provide access to capital for establishing food industry participants, supporting local farming, investing in the food delivery infrastructure, financing food scarcity challenges, and starting small food 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.

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+Food Systems Finance Resources

Funding Agricultural Best Management Practices with the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Members only Login
This report, produced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), discusses the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program and provides best practices for funding agriculture projects.
Building Sustainable Cities Through Blended CapitalMembers only Login
This Kresge Foundation case study examines strategies to confront the interconnected web of complex issues facing cities and their residents as they address income inequality and reimagine a sustainable Detroit.
Financing Solutions for Rural Food & Agricultural SystemsMembers only Login
Dafina Williams from the Opportunity Finance Network presents on financing rural food systems.
Access to Capital Strategies for AgricultureMembers only Login
Tim Crosby explores the most innovative and effective access to capital tools used for agriculture-based business, including loan funds and federal and state programs.
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA): The Year AheadMembers only Login
In Dr. Barbara Glenn's presentation she discusses NASDA's policy priorities, farm bill priorities, opportunities and challenging areas.
 More Food Systems Finance Resources

+Agriculture Finance Resources

How KS is Using Regional Food Demand to Revitalize Rural CommunitiesMembers only Login
This report, by Bob Heuer and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, details how Kansans are leveraging the growing demand for local/regional food produce to revitalize rural communities and strengthen family farms.
Funding Agricultural Best Management Practices with the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Members only Login
This report, produced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), discusses the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program and provides best practices for funding agriculture projects.
NCOSAFP Releases 2017 State Agriculture Loan Programs DirectoryMembers only Login
NCOSAFP & CDFA are proud to release the 2017 State by State Agricultural Loan Programs Directory. The CDFA and NCOSAFP partnership aims to raise awareness within the development finance and agricultural industries of the agricultural finance programs available around the country.
Access to Capital Strategies for AgricultureMembers only Login
Tim Crosby explores the most innovative and effective access to capital tools used for agriculture-based business, including loan funds and federal and state programs.
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA): The Year AheadMembers only Login
In Dr. Barbara Glenn's presentation she discusses NASDA's policy priorities, farm bill priorities, opportunities and challenging areas.
More Agriculture Finance Resources

+Financing Programs

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

NMTCs Serve Up New Space for Food Business EntrepreneursMembers only Login
For partners in the $17.5 million L.A. Prep project, the recipe for a successful food business accelerator calls for equal parts social philanthropy, economic development and collaborative synergy. L.A. Prep was financed using $16 million in NMTC allocation from the Los Angeles Development Fund and from UrbanAmerica..
Financing the Local Food System in WashingtonMembers only Login
Mike Lufkin and Bea Covington discuss the local food systems in WA and how it's become a growing challenge. Mike and Bea discuss changes to the way food is reaching consumers and addressing social issues.
HI's Food System: Food for AllMembers only Login
This Crossroads Resource Center report, written by Ken Meter and Megan Philips Goldenberg, examines the food system of Hawaii with special attention to low-income access to food.
Colorado Fresh Food Financing FundMembers only Login
Tim Dolan from the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority presents on the Colorado Fresh Food Financing Fund.
The Los Angeles Good Food Purchasing ProgramMembers only Login
In 2011-2012, the Los Angeles Food Policy Council developed the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP), an innovative local food procurement policy aimed at building markets for good food to create an equitable food system for all of Los Angeles.
More Case Studies

+Headlines

+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.

+Webcasts

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.

+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

Through a W.K. Kellogg funded research project entitled Defining the Food System Asset Class, CDFA is heavily researching the potential for DFA's to become more engaged in developing localized food systems through traditional finance approaches such as bonds, tax increment finance, tax credits, and revolving loan funds.

Want to learn more about CDFA's Defining the Food System Asset Class project?

Learn More

CDFA National Sponsors

  • Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority
  • Baker Tilly Virchow Krause
  • Ballard Spahr LLP
  • BNY Mellon
  • Bricker & Eckler LLP
  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
  • Business Oregon
  • CohnReznick
  • FBT Project Finance Advisors LLC
  • Frost Brown Todd, LLC
  • Grant Thornton LLP
  • Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP
  • Ice Miller LLP
  • KeyBanc Capital Markets
  • Kutak Rock LLP
  • MB Financial Bank, NA
  • McCarter & English, LLP
  • McGuireWoods
  • NW Financial Group, LLC
  • SB Friedman Development Advisors
  • Squire Patton Boggs
  • Stern Brothers
  • Stifel Nicolaus
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo Securities
  • Wilmington Trust
  • Z. The Bond Buyer
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