The fastest growing trend in agriculture today is small farms. New producers, often with limited resources and limited land, now have a new program to help them get started. Indiana FSA Director Julia Wickard says the USDA is offering a new Microloan program, “This program is designed to help small producers obtain loans under $35,000.” In making the announcement last month, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said this program meets a growing need in rural America. “I have met several small and beginning farmers, returning veterans and disadvantaged producers interested in careers in farming who too often must rely on credit cards or personal loans with high interest rates to finance their start-up operations,” said Vilsack. “By further expanding access to credit to those just starting to put down roots in farming, USDA continues to help grow a new generation of farmers, while ensuring the strength of an American agriculture sector that drives our economy, creates jobs, and provides the most secure and affordable food supply in the world.”
Wickard says the program involves limited paperwork and is open to a wide variety of operations for a wide variety of uses, “It is very wide open. In Indiana, we have provided loans for hoop houses to extend the growing season, vehicles to deliver goods to market, seed and fertilizer, even marketing.” In addition producers can use the loans for annual expenses such as fertilizer, utilities, land rents, 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 lender under FSA’s Guaranteed Loan Program.
With the focus by state government on economic development, Wickard says this program would work well with some of the new programs from ISDA, “This program can certainly work well with what ISDA is doing and can really benefit Indiana farmers.” For more information on the Microloan program, contact your local FSA office.