USDA Expands Program Providing Microloans to New, Underserved Farmers

USDA Expands Program Providing Microloans to New, Underserved Farmers
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January 19, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a new program aimed at promoting prosperity in rural enterprise.

The program will offer farm ownership microloans, creating a new financing avenue for farmers to buy and improve property. The subsidies are intended to be used by beginning or underserved farmers, U.S. veterans looking for a career in farming, and those who have small and mid-sized farming operations.

"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, in a written statement. "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 is part of a service that extends back three years, with great success. About 17,000 low-interest loans have been provided, totaling over $373 million in investment, with over 70 percent going to new farmers. This capital has been used to help agricultural works with operating costs, such as feed, fertilizer, tools, fencing, equipment, and living expenses.

The expansion means that loans will be available for recipients to purchase additional farm land and building upgrades, as well soil and water conservation improvements.

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) designed the program to simplify the application process, expand eligibility requirements and expedite smaller real estate loans to help farmers strengthen their operations.