USDA announces new microloan for small farms - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

USDA announces new microloan for small farms

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping the country's farmers through a new microloan.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week the new loan, designed to help small and family operations and socially disadvantaged farmers secure maximum loans of $35,000. The program will work to bolster the progress of producers through their start-up years by providing resources and help to increase equity so farmers can eventually graduate to commercial credit and expand operations.

The program also will provide a more simplified application process.

"I have met several small and beginning farmers, returning veterans and disadvantaged producers interested in careers in farming who too often must rely on credit cards or personal loans with high interest rates to finance their start-up operations," Vilsack said in a statement. "By further expanding access to credit to those just starting to put down roots in farming, USDA continues to help grow a new generation of farmers, while ensuring the strength of an American agriculture sector that drives our economy, creates jobs, and provides the most secure and affordable food supply in the world."

The new microloans, said Vilsack, represent how USDA continues to make year-over-year gains in expanding credit opportunities for minority, socially-disadvantaged and young and beginning farmers and ranchers across the United States. The final rule establishing the microloan program will be published in the Jan. 17 issue of the Federal Register.

Administered through USDA's Farm Service Agency Operating Loan Program, the new microloan program offers credit options and solutions to a variety of producers. FSA has a long history of providing agricultural credit to the nation's farmers and ranchers through its Operating Loan Program. In assessing its programs, FSA evaluated the needs of smaller farm operations and any unintended barriers to obtaining financing.

For beginning farmers and ranchers, for instance, the new microloan program offers a simplified loan application process. In addition, for those who want to grow niche crops to sell directly to ethnic markets and farmers markets, the microloan program offers a path to obtain financing. For past FSA Rural Youth Loan recipients, the microloan program provides a bridge to successfully transition to larger-scale operations.