USDA offers Microloans to farmers

By Mike sever | staff writer Published:

Steven Maurer, the Ohio Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director, has announced that new and beginning farmers, returning veterans and disadvantaged producers interested in careers in farming now have an agricultural Microloan credit option to consider.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's FSA will offer applicants a Microloan designed to help farmers with credit needs of $35,000 or less. The loan features a streamlined application process built to fit the needs of new and smaller producers.

"For those selling at Farmers' Markets or through community-supported agriculture operations (CSAs), a Microloan might serve their needs perfectly," Maurer said. "And the reduced paperwork associated with the new Microloan will help expedite the process for everyone."

The new microloan program is aimed at bolstering the progress of producers through their start-up years by providing needed resources and helping to increase equity so that farmers may eventually graduate to commercial credit and expand their operations.

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 and annual expenses such as seed, fertilizer, utilities, land rents, marketing, and distribution expenses. As their financing needs increase, applicants can apply for a regular operating loan up to the maximum amount of $300,000 or obtain financing from a commercial lender 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. Small farmers often rely on credit cards or personal loans, which carry high interest rates and have less flexible payment schedules, to finance their operations. The microloan program will expand access to credit and provide a simple and flexible loan process for small operators.

Producers interested in applying for a microloan should contact their local FSA office or visit the Ohio FSA website at: www.fsa.usda.gov/oh to locate the nearest FSA office.

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