washington / reuters The U.S. Department of Agriculture will help small farming operations, including those run by minority or socially disadvantaged farmers, improve their access to credit.
The program will offer loans of up to $35,000 for terms of up to seven years to help recipients deal with farming’s often prohibitive startup costs.
“History tells us micro loans in combination with technical assistance often results in a successful operation,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The program will require less paperwork than traditional USDA loans to farmers and ranchers — a mere eight forms to fill out instead of 17 and the provision of one year of records instead of three years.
“We hope this will be the next step up for those young people” who might be interested in agriculture, but have struggled with funding, Vilsack said.
Producers can apply for loans to pay for startup expenses such as essential tools, irrigation, and delivery vehicles, as well as recurring expenses such as seed, fertilizer, rent and distribution expenses.
The National Farmers Union applauded the program.
“Access to credit is one of the greatest challenges that beginning farmers and ranchers face,” said NFU president Roger Johnson.