The USDA has launched a new microloan program that it says is designed to help small and family operations along with beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers.
According to a local farm loan specialist it may especially help a specific kind of small farmer, and give a boost to the local food movement.
Dave Ard is the farm loan manager for Hancock and Schuyler Counties with the USDA’s Farm Service Agency. He predicts many of the farmers taking advantage of the program will be those who sell their produce directly to consumers, either by roadside stand or through a farmer’s market.
Ard is also the manager of a local farmers market, and it’s there that he’s seen the demand.
The maximum loan available through the program is 35 thousand dollars.
Ard says the microloans have lower requirements than traditional loans when it
comes to the experience required to qualify.
He says the money can be used for things like equipment, irrigation, vehicles, marketing, and family living expenses.