What Is a Farm Number? Why Is It So Important for USDA Funding?

June 29, 2022

If you’re a farmer or rancher with land, you’ll likely consider boosting your farm’s profitability or protection with help from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) farm funding, such as grants, Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans, disaster assistance or crop insurance. Before you can apply, you’ll need one important set of numbers: a farm serial number (FSN), but for our purposes, we’ll just call it a farm number. 

Getting your farm number is an essential first step in applying for most USDA funding. If you’re wondering why a farm number is important and how it can help you achieve your goals of farm profitability, keep on reading. 

What is a farm number and how does it help me receive funding?

An FSA farm number is a number from the USDA that identifies where your farm is located. Just like a zip code identifies a specific area’s location, a farm number identifies your farm’s location. This is also a great way to identify yourself as a farm. To be clear, the farm number is attached to your land, not you as a farmer. That said, if you sell your land, the lucky buyer will already have their farm number set up.

A farm number can help you get government funding for your farm. You’re required to have an FSA farm number to apply for USDA grant and loan programs. Some of the programs that require a farm number include:

  • The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
  • FSA loans and microloans 
  • FSA disaster assistance
  • USDA crop insurance
  • Participating in FSA County Committee Elections
  • Being counted in the Agricultural Census, which means your county might receive more resources in the future.

What’s more, we all know that in the world of agriculture, who you know can be the difference between profit and loss. A farm number gives you the chance to form a relationship with your local FSA office. Your local FSA office is an excellent resource for farm knowledge and funding opportunities.  

Once you have your farm number, you’ll have completed one of the three requirements for you to qualify for agricultural sale tax exemptions. (To do this, you’ll need to register with your state’s department of revenue.) You’ll also be that much more ready to apply for new funding programs. There are two key ways to stay updated on new agricultural grants, loans and cost-share programs. 

  1. You can join FSA’s mailing list which will alert you to FSA programs
  2. You can get FarmRaise funding alerts directly to your inbox that include funding opportunities across federal departments (not just the FSA) and specific to your locale 

How do I get a farm number?

Good news! Farm numbers are as free as samples at your favorite wholesale store. You can apply for FSA farm records and a farm number by following these steps. 

First, you’ll want to contact your local FSA office. After a 30 to 60 minute in-person or virtual appointment, they’ll send you the paperwork you’ll need to complete. Be sure to have the following documentation:

  • Identifying documents like you driver’s license or state ID, your social security card or employer identification number
  • Your land documents like your deed or rental agreement. A copy of these should be okay.

For an individual applying, the paperwork should total about 22 pages. You’ll want to set aside at least two hours to complete the paperwork. If you’re applying as an entity, you’ll receive 24 pages of paperwork and an additional packet of paperwork for each member in the entity that is 13 pages each. In this scenario, you’ll want to allot more for the paperwork (the total time required will depend on if you have multiple members).

If you find this process time consuming and prefer to have someone else take care of all the paperwork for you, FarmRaise happy to assist! Your time is valuable and our goal at FarmRaise is to do all the busy paperwork for you - so you can do what you're amazing at, farming! 

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