Monday, February 25, 2013

USDA’s New Microloan Program

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Travis County and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency are working together to inform Central Texas urban farmers about the new USDA Microloan program.  

Coordinators said the new USDA Microloan program was designed with small-scale producers in mind and may be an excellent fit for urban farmers needing capital to launch or expand their operations.

The new Microloan program is administered through the Farm Services Agency and provides various low-interest credit options for small agricultural producers, according to USDA officials. The simplified loan application process and modified eligibility requirements are well-suited to beginning farmers, ranchers, and CSA operators, and for farmers wanting to grow “niche crops” to sell to ethnic markets or farmers markets, it may also provide a means of financing. 

Qualifying farmers and ranchers may apply for a maximum of $35,000 to be used toward initial start-up expenses, USDA officials explained. And as their needs increase, they may apply for an additional operating loan of up to $300,000 -- or seek commercial-lender financing from an institution within its Guaranteed Loan Program.

Officials said farm loans can be used for a variety of purposes, including buying land, delivery vehicles, livestock, seed, feed and supplies, or for farm improvements such as wells, coolers, hoop houses, and irrigation systems. 

Producers interested in applying for a microloan should contact their local Farm Service Agency office. For more information about the March 5 workshop, contact Trevino