Microloans to help farmers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a new microloan program, designed to help socially disadvantaged farmers secure loans under $35,000.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hopes it will help small and family operation “bolster the progress of producers through their start-up years.”

It will provided the resources needed to help farmers increase their equity, so that they may eventually graduate to commercial credit and expand their operations. The microloan program has a simplified application process, compared to traditional farm loans.

The microloans will be administered through USDA’s Farm Service Agency Operating Loan Program. It offers credit option and solutions to a variety of producers.

Producers can apply for a maximum of $35,000 to pay for initial start-up expenses, such as hoop houses to extend the growing season, essential tools, irrigation, delivery vehicles, and annual expenses such as seed, fertilizer, utilities, land rents, marketing and distribution expenses.

As their financing needs increase, applicants can apply for an operating loan up to the maximum amount of $300,000 or obtain financing from a commercial leader under FSA’s Guaranteed Loan Program.

USDA farm loans can be used to purchase land, livestock, equipment, feed, seed, and supplies, or be to construct buildings or make farm improvements.

Producers interested in applying for a microloan may contact their local Farm Service Agency office.

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