Tell me about the changes USDA recently made in its microloan program. I read that 70% of USDA microloans over the past three years have gone to new farmers.
Answer: USDA in January began offering farm ownership microloans, creating a new financing avenue for farmers to buy and improve property. “These microloans will be especially helpful to beginning or underserved farmers, military veterans looking for a career in farming, and farmers who have small and mid-size operations,” says John Whitaker, state director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Iowa. “Microloans provide up to $50,000 to qualified producers and can be issued to the applicant directly from FSA.” Whitaker provides the following explanation.
For new and underserved farmers, access to land is one of the biggest challenges they face in establishing and growing their farming operation. USDA is making it easier for new farmers to hit the ground running and get access to land they need to establish their farms or improve their property.
This program helps farmers strengthen their operations
USDA’s microloan program, now in its third year, has provided more than 16,800 low-interest loans, totaling over $373 million to producers across the country. Microloans have helped farmers with operating costs such as feed, fertilizer, equipment, tools, fencing and living expenses since 2013; 70% of the loans have gone to new farmers. Now, microloans are available to also help with farmland and building purchases, and soil and water conservation improvements.
FSA designed the expanded program to simplify the application process, expand eligibility requirements and expedite smaller real estate loans to help farmers strengthen their operations. To learn more about the microloan program visit fsa.usda.gov/microloans or contact your local FSA office.
Source: USDA Farm Service Agency