FSA offers new options for beginning farmers, ranchers
The USDA Farm Service Agency is working harder than ever to assist new farmers and ranchers. Oklahoma FSA State Executive Director Francie Tolle recently unveiled a new Land Contract Guarantee Program and several other tools designed to help beginning farmers and ranchers build the foundation for a successful career in agriculture.
"New farmers face many challenges, like obtaining land for example," said Tolle. "FSA is going to provide new options to help them to work through this challenging start-up issue." Peak land values, tight commercial credit, minimal credit history, and less collateral make it difficult for new and smaller farmers in Oklahoma to get a commercial business loan right now.
The Land Contract Guarantee Program provides a new approach for landowners willing to sell and finance a land purchase to a beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer. The program offers two options, one that guarantees up to three annual installment payments on the contract and one that guarantees 90 percent of the unpaid principal of the contract. Guarantees can be used in the purchase of land for up to $500,000.
"Oklahoma farmers represent all walks of life, as well as a wide variety of backgrounds and ages," notes Tolle. "This program will work well for beginning and minority growers in Oklahoma, and we encourage producers to visit with us to determine if FSA can assist with their individual needs."
Another new change to the agency's lending rules for new producers is to allow more flexibility in the minimum experience requirement. Under the new rule, FSA loan officers are now allowed to consider all prior farming experience, including on-the-job training and formal education when determining eligibility for FSA Farm Operating and Ownership Loans.
To qualify for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Loan Program, applicants must have a minimum level of agricultural experience, but not more than 10 years operating a farm or ranch. Tolle also recommends that people considering a farming career visit the new USDA website www.start2farm.gov to learn more about loan programs available for beginning farmers and ranchers.
For additional information about FSA programs, contact your local FSA office or visit us online at www.fsa.usda.gov/ok.