About

Advocacy

Events

Membership

Sponsor

Education

Newsletters

Resources

Technical Assistance

×

Food Systems Finance Resource Center

Read more about this Topic

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

Want regular updates on food systems financing? Subscribe to CDFA's Food & Agriculture Finance Update newsletter.

Subscribe

-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

Resilience in New Mexico Agriculture Strategic Plan
The Resilience in New Mexico Agriculture Strategic Plan provides broad recommendations are coupled with specific, actionable strategies. The implementation of this plan is critical to achieving greater agricultural and natural resource resiliency, as well as a secure future for the generations of farmers and ranchers to come.
American Rescue Plan: Federal Investment GuideMembers only Login
This report from Drexel University's Nowak Metro Finance Lab provides a guide to federal funding in the American Rescue Plan (ARP). The authors place a special emphasis on formula funds received by local anchors, competitive grants, and funds distributed to public authorities that city leadership can leverage to boost their recovery. They clarify which entities are responsible for applying for grant funds, when funding expires, and what role city and county leadership can play even when they will not be the primary applicant for funds.
Food Forward NYC: A 10-Year Food Policy PlanMembers only Login
Food Forward NYC is the City’s first ever 10-year food policy plan, laying out an ambitious interagency policy framework to reach a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy food system by 2031. The success of this plan depends on the partnership of everyone involved in the food system. Food businesses large and small, community-based organizations and advocates, philanthropies and academic institutions, regional partners, and the state and federal government all have a critical role to play.
Vermont Agriculture and Food Systems Strategic Plan 2021-2030Members only Login
The Plan estimates that additional public and philanthropic investment is needed over the next ten years: approximately $9.7 million in one-time funding and $23.3 million in recurring funding. This level of funding will ensure sufficient land access and conservation, climate resilience, food security, infrastructure investments, regional market development, and workforce development to meet the growing needs of the sector. Public and philanthropic funding will also stimulate additional private sector investment.
View more Agriculture Finance Resources

-Food Systems Finance Resources

Resilience in New Mexico Agriculture Strategic Plan
The Resilience in New Mexico Agriculture Strategic Plan provides broad recommendations are coupled with specific, actionable strategies. The implementation of this plan is critical to achieving greater agricultural and natural resource resiliency, as well as a secure future for the generations of farmers and ranchers to come.
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.
American Rescue Plan: Federal Investment GuideMembers only Login
This report from Drexel University's Nowak Metro Finance Lab provides a guide to federal funding in the American Rescue Plan (ARP). The authors place a special emphasis on formula funds received by local anchors, competitive grants, and funds distributed to public authorities that city leadership can leverage to boost their recovery. They clarify which entities are responsible for applying for grant funds, when funding expires, and what role city and county leadership can play even when they will not be the primary applicant for funds.
Food Forward NYC: A 10-Year Food Policy PlanMembers only Login
Food Forward NYC is the City’s first ever 10-year food policy plan, laying out an ambitious interagency policy framework to reach a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy food system by 2031. The success of this plan depends on the partnership of everyone involved in the food system. Food businesses large and small, community-based organizations and advocates, philanthropies and academic institutions, regional partners, and the state and federal government all have a critical role to play.
View more Food Systems Finance Resources

-Food Financing Programs

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.
Local and Urban Food Systems: Selected Farm Bill and Other Federal ProgramsMembers only Login
More than 30 USDA grant and loan programs provide support and assistance for local and urban food producers and producer groups. These grant and loan programs may be grouped into several broad program categories, including marketing and promotion; business assistance and agricultural research; rural and community development; urban and indoor production; nutrition and education; and farmland conservation.
COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide
USDA and its Federal partners have programs that can be used to provide immediate and long-term assistance to rural communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. This resource matrix organizes funding opportunities identified in the CARES Act and other federal resources that can help support rural America.
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

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.
King County Local Food Facility Business ConceptMembers only Login
The Local Food Facility hopes to become a pivotal hub in the King County local food network, helping to grow businesses and connect local food partners. ECONorthwest's analysis led to conclude that this food facility concept could be financially sustainable if executed under the right ownership and governance model. This report by ECONorthwest summarizes our analysis and recommendations.
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.
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.
Cultivating Development: Trends and Opportunities at the Intersection of Food and Real EstateMembers only Login
Cultivating Development explores the mutually beneficial relationship between food-based amenities—such as working farms, community gardens, food halls, restaurants, and grocery stores—and real estate. Developers, owners, property managers, designers, investors, and others involved in real estate decision making can learn from the research, case studies, and food and development practitioner insights described in this report, thereby allowing them to create places that both support and leverage investments in food.
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

-Upcoming Events

CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Financing Food Systems Through FinTech
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM Eastern
Local food systems face similar barriers accessing technology as they do financing for small businesses and development projects. Technological innovations have the potential to help build localized food systems that are more equitable, sustainable, and efficient. From agtech to online lending to locavesting, there are a variety of financial technologies - or “fintech” - that can bring capital to small food businesses and invest in communities as they restore their local food system. In this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, we will explore how tech innovations are increasing access to financing for food-related businesses and projects, and how finance is supporting the integration of new technology in local food systems.
Register
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Debunking Risk in Food System Finance
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM Eastern
The food system is often perceived as loosely defined and fragmented which leads to many food-related businesses to regularly be perceived as too risky for traditional lending. The perception of risk can be detrimental for the ability of local food-related businesses to access affordable capital. Luckily, the participation of a development finance agency can reduce both real and perceived risks and protect the viability of a project. In this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, we will break down the real and perceived risks of lending and discuss a variety of affordable financing solutions that are being employed by development finance agencies to invest in local food-related businesses and projects.
Register
CDFA Federal Financing Webinar Series: Preserving Local Food Systems with Federal Financing
Tuesday, December 14, 2021
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM Eastern
During this installment of the CDFA Federal Financing Webinar Series, hear from experts at the USDA about their various programs available for rural food systems and agricultural producers to recover from the pandemic.
Register
View more Upcoming Events

-Webcasts

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.
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Financing Food Systems Entrepreneurs
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.
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Neighborhood Revitalization Through Food Systems Finance
On this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, we 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.
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: The Landscape of Food Systems Finance
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.

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
  • McGuireWoods
  • MuniCap, Inc.
  • NW Financial Group, LLC
  • PGAV Planners, LLC
  • SB Friedman Development Advisors
  • Stern Brothers
  • Stifel Nicolaus
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo Securities
  • Z. The Bond Buyer
Become a Sponsor