New farm ownership microloans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will help small or beginning farmers, or niche and non-traditional farm operations, like farmers' markets and truck farms, purchase land and imrpove their property.
The loans are particularly geared at new farmers, U.S. veterans looking for a career in farming, and those who have small and mid-sized farming operations. Niche farming businesses would also include CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), restaurants and grocery stores, or those using hydroponic, aquaponic, organic and vertical growing methods.
"Many producers, especially new and underserved farmers, tell us that access to land is one of the biggest challenges they face in establishing and growing their own farming operation," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden when announcing the USDA's farm ownership microloans offering. "USDA is making it easier for new farmers to hit the ground running and get access to the land that they need to establish their farms or improve their property."
The Microloan Program, which celebrates its third anniversary this week, has been hugely successful, providing more than 16,800 low-interest loans, totaling over $373 million to producers across the country. Microloans have helped farmers and ranchers with operating costs, such as feed, fertilizer, tools, fencing, equipment, and living expenses since 2013. Seventy percent of loans have gone to new farmers.
Now, Microloans will be available to also help with farm land and building purchases, and soil and water conservation improvements. The Farm Service Agency designed the expanded program to simplify the application process, expand eligibility requirements and expedite smaller real estate loans to help farmers strengthen their operations. There is no minimum loan amount. The maximum loan amount for a Microloan is $50,000 to qualified producers, and can be issued to the applicant directly from the USDA-Farm Service Agency.