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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

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.
A Vision for Native Food and Agriculture Infrastructure Rebuilding and Recovery Members only Login
An investment in food infrastructure will ensure that Native producers have access to reliable markets and the wraparound support services that are so critical to robust food systems. By approaching infrastructure from a new model and linking infrastructure investments to the food access needs of Native communities, a more resilient food system can be built over time. Local and regional economies will recover while also ensuring that food insecurity is addressed in terms that link food producers to those needing healthy food.
Catalytic Capital and Agriculture: Opportunities to Invest in Healthy Soils, Resilient Farms and a Stable ClimateMembers only Login
The purpose of the report is to highlight opportunities for catalytic capital to advance agricultural conservation, resilience and sustainability. In this report we define catalytic capital as capital intentionally deployed to identify, financially support and scale promising solutions for environmental and social impact that would otherwise be unlikely to raise funding on a purely commercial basis. This report is for foundations, philanthropists or investors that wish to deploy their financial and nonfinancial resources to catalyze lasting and systemic change in U.S. agriculture. It is also for anyone designing projects, enterprises or initiatives that share those objectives.
Interim Report on the Economic and Trade Agreement between the U.S. and China
This Interim Report issued by United States Trade Representative and Secretary of the Department of Agriculture identifies key achievements from February to October 2020 in the area of agricultural trade between the United States and China.
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.
View more Agriculture Finance Resources

-Food Systems Finance Resources

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.
Local Food Systems Response to COVID
The COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health and social distancing mandates caused unprecedented shifts and disruptions for Local and Regional Food Systems (LRFS). USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) along with the cooperating research team led by the University of Kentucky seek to enrich existing efforts within LRFS communities of practice who provide essential support to our nation’s local food producers.
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.
A Vision for Native Food and Agriculture Infrastructure Rebuilding and Recovery Members only Login
An investment in food infrastructure will ensure that Native producers have access to reliable markets and the wraparound support services that are so critical to robust food systems. By approaching infrastructure from a new model and linking infrastructure investments to the food access needs of Native communities, a more resilient food system can be built over time. Local and regional economies will recover while also ensuring that food insecurity is addressed in terms that link food producers to those needing healthy food.
Catalytic Capital and Agriculture: Opportunities to Invest in Healthy Soils, Resilient Farms and a Stable ClimateMembers only Login
The purpose of the report is to highlight opportunities for catalytic capital to advance agricultural conservation, resilience and sustainability. In this report we define catalytic capital as capital intentionally deployed to identify, financially support and scale promising solutions for environmental and social impact that would otherwise be unlikely to raise funding on a purely commercial basis. This report is for foundations, philanthropists or investors that wish to deploy their financial and nonfinancial resources to catalyze lasting and systemic change in U.S. agriculture. It is also for anyone designing projects, enterprises or initiatives that share those objectives.
View more Food Systems Finance Resources

-Food Financing Programs

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.
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.
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

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.
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.
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.
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-Training Courses

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 studies that showcase the variety of financing programs.
Register
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-Upcoming Events

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 studies 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
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-Webcasts

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 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 National Sponsors

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  • KeyBanc Capital Markets
  • Kutak Rock LLP
  • McGuireWoods
  • MuniCap, Inc.
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  • SB Friedman Development Advisors
  • Stern Brothers
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  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo Securities
  • Z. The Bond Buyer
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