USDA expands microloan program

USDA expands microloan program

A three-year old program can now be used to help with farmland and building purchases.

The microloan, often thought of as a key financial tool in the developing world, but for the past three years, USDA has offered a program that helps new and underserved farmers. The program is now expanding and will offer farm ownership microloans.

Krysta Harden, who announced the program, commented in the press statement: "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. 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."

MICROLOAN EXPANSION: USDA is adding farmland and buildings to the three-year microloan program. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The microloan program is three years old, and USDA reports it has provided more than 16,800 low-interest loans topping $373 million. Those loans went to producers across the country including beginning and underserved farmers, U.S. veterans looking for a career in farming, and those who have small to mid-sized farm operations.

The program has helped those farmers and ranchers with operating costs such as feed, fertilizer, tools, fencing, equipment, and living expenses. And 70% of the loans have gone to new farmers.

The expanded program will also help with farmland and building purchases, and soil and water conservation improvements. USDA's Farm Service Agency designed the expanded program to simplify the application process, expand eligibility requirements and expedite smaller real estate loans to help farmers, USDA reports.

Microloans provide up to $50,000 to qualified producers, and can be issued to the applicant directly from the USDA FSA office. USDA notes this program can benefit new and beginning farmers and ranchers looking for assistance to get started. To learn more about the FSA microloan program visit www.fsa.usda.gov/microloans, or contact your local FSA office.

Source: USDA

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