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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

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-Agriculture Finance Resources

Growing Opportunity: A Guide to USDA Sustainable Farming ProgramsMembers only Login
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with farmer-serving organizations, such as the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and its members to better reach and serve an increasingly diverse farmer and rancher constituency for USDA programs. This free, comprehensive, practical guide includes detailed and concise program summaries, reference links, and key resources related to dozens of USDA programs that are designed to help farmers and ranchers start, maintain, and grow successful operations, as well as a matrix highlighting programs with prioritized funding for beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, and military veterans.
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Cultivating Equitable Lending Models in Agriculture Finance
During this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, we discussed strategies to expand access to capital for underserved farmers.
Investing in Rural ProsperityMembers only Login
The Federal Reserve has created this book to bring together community and economic development researchers, practitioners, philanthropists, and others to showcase the great work happening across this country and to outline a framework for conducting community and economic development that, if applied, can help more communities achieve shared economic prosperity.
USDA Resources for Rural EntrepreneursMembers only Login
This is a USDA resource guide to help people in rural America start and grow businesses, create good-paying jobs in their communities and strengthen America’s economy. The guide features information on how rural entrepreneurs can use USDA and other Federal programs to access financing and other assistance to help start and expand their businesses.
Financial Innovations to Accelerate Sustainable Agriculture: Blueprints for the Value ChainMembers only Login
The purpose of the report is to equip value chain actors with innovative financial mechanisms and incentive strategies that can be employed in agricultural sustainability projects to support producers in scaling conservation adoption.
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-Food Systems Finance Resources

CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Where’s the Beef? Financing Meat Processing Infrastructure
During this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, experts discuss financing solutions to reinvest in local meat processing facilities.
Ohio's Food Industry: Disruptive Technologies Facing the Food Industry SectorMembers only Login
An informative report on the technologies transforming Ohio's food and agribusiness industry.
Ohio's Food Industry: Why the Food Industry MattersMembers only Login
A report on the high value of Ohio's food and agribusiness industry as a key economic driver.
Ohio's Food Industry: The State of the IndustryMembers only Login
A critical review of the current and future realities of Ohio's food industry.
Ohio's Food Industry: The Future of Food Processing, Manufacturing, and DistributionMembers only Login
Co-sponsored by the Center for Innovative Food Technology and JobsOhio, “Ohio’s Food Industry,” a series of four new white papers highlight that Ohio has been a leader in research and innovation in the food industry, which is a primary economic driver for the state. This enables the food industry to be adaptable, flexible, and nimble to overcome the challenges it faces. In addition to this executive summary, the series covers: Why the Food Industry Matters, State of the Industry, and Disruptive Technologies.
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

How Innovative CDFIs Fund Equitable Food Oriented Development
This report describes how three CDFIs drive economic growth in low-income and historically marginalized communities through a model defined by the EFOD Collaborative as Equitable Food Oriented Development (EFOD). EFOD is a development approach that supports locally owned food-based economies. The report details systemic financial barriers that business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs face in marginalized communities.
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.
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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-Webcasts

CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Where’s the Beef? Financing Meat Processing Infrastructure
During this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, experts discuss financing solutions to reinvest in local meat processing facilities.
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Cultivating Equitable Lending Models in Agriculture Finance
During this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, we discussed strategies to expand access to capital for underserved farmers.
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Debunking Risk in Food System Finance
In this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, we broke down the real and perceived risks of lending and discussed a variety of affordable financing solutions that are being employed by development finance agencies to invest in local food-related businesses and projects.
CDFA // BNY Mellon Development Finance Webcast Series: Unlocking Capital for BIPOC-owned BusinessesMembers only Login
During this installment of the CDFA // BNY Mellon Development Finance Webcast Series, we will be discussing creative financing approaches to minimize barriers and increase access to capital for minority-owned businesses across the country.
CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Financing Food Systems Through FinTech
In this installment of the CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series, we explored 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.

CDFA National Sponsors

  • BNY Mellon
  • Bricker & Eckler LLP
  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
  • Business Oregon
  • CohnReznick
  • FBT Project Finance Advisors LLC
  • Frost Brown Todd LLC
  • gener8tor
  • Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP
  • Ice Miller LLP
  • KeyBanc Capital Markets
  • Kutak Rock LLP
  • McGuireWoods
  • MuniCap, Inc.
  • NW Financial Group, LLC
  • PGAV Planners, LLC
  • Raza Development Fund
  • SB Friedman Development Advisors
  • Stern Brothers
  • Stifel Nicolaus
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo Securities
  • Z. The Bond Buyer
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