Farm Loans Programs
Type: Direct loans and guaranteed loans
Max award: $300,000 for direct loans; $1,399,000 for guaranteed loans
Big idea: USDA provides loans to farmers and ranchers through local Farm Service Agency county offices, and also works with local banks to provide a government guarantee for farm loans made by those financial institutions to farmers and ranchers.
Who can apply: Farmers and ranchers (including individuals, cooperatives, joint operations, corporations, and partnerships) who are unable to obtain financing from commercial lending sources can apply for direct and guaranteed loans. Direct loans are provided by the government to the farmer or rancher, and guaranteed loans are provided by a local bank with a guarantee from USDA. Funds are available to all farmers and ranchers. However, specifically targeted funds are available to beginning farmers and ranchers who have been in business for less than ten years and are family-sized farmers. Specifically targeted funds are also available to women, African Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders who are farming or entering into farming. FSA also makes Youth Loans of up to $5,000 to help young people work on an agricultural project in conjunction with local farm organizations.
Possibilities: USDA Farm Loans offer direct and guaranteed loans to:
- Purchase land;
- Construct or re-furbish buildings;
- Purchase equipment or livestock;
- Establish permanent crops, or finance the costs of annual crops.
Real example: Matt and Lily Schneider run Shooting Star Farm, an organic community supported agriculture operation outside of Fairfield, California. When they were unable to get commercial financing, they approached FSA and received a loan to cover the initial costs of seed, fertilizer, and drip irrigation. After a successful first season, they then received a second loan from FSA to expand their operation and are now growing over 35 different types of produce on 10 acres.