Agriculture and Local Foods

Beyond the traditional financial services CoBank provides, our corporate citizenship initiatives include significant investments in young, beginning and small farming programs, local cooperative development, and local and urban food systems.

Co-op Start

CoBank launched Co-op Start to help emerging and existing small agricultural cooperatives through innovative financing, business mentorship and training. Since its inception, Co-op Start has delivered $2.15 million in loans and leases.

D.C. Central Kitchen

D.C. Central Kitchen works to break the cycle of hunger and poverty. The organization provides culinary training to unemployed, marginalized adults, preparing them for good, living wage jobs in the food industry. The training centers around preparing healthy school meals for low-income children, using fresh produce purchased from local farmers.


Conducted in partnership with Farm Credit East and Yankee Farm Credit, two of CoBank’s affiliated associations, FarmStart supports individuals wanting to launch businesses in agriculture, forest products and commercial fishing in the northeastern United States. Since its inception, FarmStart has made more than 250 investments totaling more than $11.3 million.

National Farm-to-School Network

National Farm to School Network works to change food purchasing and education practices at schools by connecting them with local food producers. CoBank and fellow Farm Credit bank AgriBank sponsored a National Farm to School Network economic impact report that quantified the financial benefits to farmers when schools source food locally. CoBank’s funding of the National Farm to School Network supports local agriculture and fosters the creation of additional local food markets nationwide.