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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

Regenerative Agriculture and COVID-19 Capital Needs
Traditional sources of capital ranging from philanthropy to private equity to banking institutions have demonstrated a strong interest in investing in a more diversified, resilient food system. To better understand and capture the capital needs of current operators in the regenerative value chain during the COVID-19 pandemic, Croatan Institute and Thread Fund conducted original research focused on the livestock and grain sectors in the spring and early summer of 2020.
U.S. Agriculture's Opportunities to Contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals
Though challenges exist, there are unprecedented opportunities for U.S. agriculture to collaborate and build on its existing strengths to deliver business value for the sector as a whole while contributing to the sustainable development goals and the improved well-being of people and the planet.
USDA Programs in the Local Food Supply Chain
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is committed to supporting robust regional food economies across the food chain. This graphic is designed to be a guide for which programs are best suited for different parts of the supply chain.
Financing Resilient AgricultureMembers only Login
There are several existing agricultural lender initiatives that can inform the development of lending programs or products for resilient agriculture. This report derives five key lessons from these initiatives, including the need to understand the financial benefits of and barriers to resilient agricultural practices, design loan structures and requirements that correspond with the financial characteristics of those practices, utilize loan support to launch initial products, collect data on financial and environmental performance to show results and adjust credit rating processes, and consider other forms of support farmers may need to ensure successful practice adoption.
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.
View more Agriculture Finance Resources

-Food Systems Finance Resources

Regenerative Agriculture and COVID-19 Capital Needs
Traditional sources of capital ranging from philanthropy to private equity to banking institutions have demonstrated a strong interest in investing in a more diversified, resilient food system. To better understand and capture the capital needs of current operators in the regenerative value chain during the COVID-19 pandemic, Croatan Institute and Thread Fund conducted original research focused on the livestock and grain sectors in the spring and early summer of 2020.
U.S. Agriculture's Opportunities to Contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals
Though challenges exist, there are unprecedented opportunities for U.S. agriculture to collaborate and build on its existing strengths to deliver business value for the sector as a whole while contributing to the sustainable development goals and the improved well-being of people and the planet.
USDA Programs in the Local Food Supply Chain
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is committed to supporting robust regional food economies across the food chain. This graphic is designed to be a guide for which programs are best suited for different parts of the supply chain.
Financing Resilient AgricultureMembers only Login
There are several existing agricultural lender initiatives that can inform the development of lending programs or products for resilient agriculture. This report derives five key lessons from these initiatives, including the need to understand the financial benefits of and barriers to resilient agricultural practices, design loan structures and requirements that correspond with the financial characteristics of those practices, utilize loan support to launch initial products, collect data on financial and environmental performance to show results and adjust credit rating processes, and consider other forms of support farmers may need to ensure successful practice adoption.
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.
View more Food Systems Finance Resources

-Food Financing Programs

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.
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.
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

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.
City of Columbus & Franklin County, Ohio Local Food Action Plan
The Columbus & Franklin County Local Food Action Plan provides a framework of common goals and actions that serve to unify residents, schools, community organizations, businesses, and local government in supporting a healthy, strong, and resilient local food system. The plan’s goals and actions represent those with the greatest potential for a positive impact on the food-related issues facing our community.
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.
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

-Training Courses

CDFA Virtual Summer School
August 3-13, 2020
Daily: 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM Eastern
CDFA Virtual Summer School is a two-week-long series of courses presented by the CDFA Training Institute. These courses qualify for the CDFA Training Institute's Development Finance Certified Professional (DFCP) Program. Participants may register for up to four courses during CDFA Virtual Summer School. Complete three courses, and you will have fulfilled half of the requirements for the DFCP Program.
Register
Intro Food Systems Finance WebCourse
December 9-10, 2020
12:00 - 5:00 PM Eastern
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.
Register
View All Courses

-Upcoming Events

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
Intro Food Systems Finance WebCourse
December 9-10, 2020
12:00 - 5:00 PM Eastern
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.
Register
CDFA - TEDC Webinar: Financing Local Food Systems Development
December 16, 2020
10:30 AM -12:00 PM Central
The food system is composed of a diverse range of activities – from agriculture and livestock, to restaurants and grocery stores, to food hubs and food incubation kitchens, and much more – and is a critical piece of the Texas economy. Communities are turning to local food systems for the opportunity to grow local economies by using local food businesses and projects to revitalize neighborhoods and spur economic development, improve public health, increase resiliency, address social issues, and celebrate local culture. Although financing food businesses has historically been perceived as a risky investment, there are billions of dollars being directed towards local food system development through tax credits, bonds, revolving loan funds, tax increment financing, and much more. Join CDFA, in partnership with the Texas Economic Development Council, for the CDFA-TEDC Webinar: Financing Local Food Systems Development. This exclusive, 90 minute-long webinar will provide explore the variety of financing tools for local food systems development and best practices for investing in strong local food economies. Development finance experts from Texas (and beyond) will share details of various financing programs and project investments that have contributed to building a successful, local food system.
Register
View more Upcoming Events

-Webcasts

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 Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Disaster Recovery for the Food System
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 of COVID-19.
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 National Sponsors

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  • Z. The Bond Buyer
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