FSA expands storage loan program; new farmers will benefit

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COLUMBUS — The USDA will provide a new financing option to help farmers purchase portable storage and handling equipment.

Farm Service Agency Administrator Val Dolcini and Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator Elanor Starmer announced changes to the Farm Storage Facility Loan program April 29 during a regional food roundtable in Columbus.

The loans, which now include a smaller microloan option with lower down payments, are designed to help producers, including new, small and mid-sized producers, grow their businesses and markets.

“As more communities reconnect with agriculture, consumer demand is increasing for food produced locally or regionally,” said Dolcini. “Portable handling and storage equipment is vital to helping farmers get their products to market more quickly and better maintain product quality, bringing them greater returns.

All sizes eligible

The program also offers a new microloan option, which allows applicants seeking less than $50,000 to qualify for a reduced down payment of 5 percent and no requirement to provide three years of production history. Farms of all sizes are eligible.

The microloan option is expected to be of particular benefit to smaller farms and specialty crop producers who may not have access to commercial storage or on-farm storage after harvest.

These producers can invest in equipment like conveyers, scales or refrigeration units and trucks that can store commodities before delivering them to markets. The agency’s microloans can also be used to finance wash and pack equipment used post-harvest, before a commodity is placed in cold storage.

Producers do not need to demonstrate the lack of commercial credit availability to apply.

“Growing high-value crops for local and regional markets is a common entry point for new farmers,” said Starmer. “Since they often rent land and have to transport perishable commodities, a loan that can cover mobile coolers or even refrigerated trucks fills an important gap.”

Eligible commodities

Earlier this year, FSA significantly expanded the list of commodities eligible for Farm Storage Facility Loan. Eligible commodities now include aquaculture; floriculture; fruits (including nuts) and vegetables; corn, grain sorghum, rice, oilseeds, oats, wheat, triticale, spelt, buckwheat, lentils, chickpeas, dry peas sugar, peanuts, barley, rye, hay, honey, hops, maple sap, unprocessed meat and poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, butter, yogurt and renewable biomass.

To learn more about farm storage facility loans, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/pricesupport or contact a local FSA office. To find your local FSA county office, visit http://offices.usda.gov/.

 

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