Programs to Assist Small Farms
USDA has announced the implementation of new Farm Bill measures and other policy changes to improve the financial security of new and beginning farmers and ranchers. USDA has unveiled http://www.usda.gov/newfarmers, a new website that will provide a centralized, one-stop resource where beginning farmers and ranchers can explore the variety of USDA initiatives designed to help them succeed. USDA's New Farmers website has in depth information for new farmers and ranchers, including: how to increase access to land and capital; build new market opportunities; participate in conservation opportunities; select and use the right risk management tools; and access USDA education, and technical support programs. These issues have been identified as top priorities by new farmers. The website will also feature instructive case studies about beginning farmers who have successfully utilized USDA resources to start or expand their business operations.
NRCS provides assistance to design, layout and install conservation practices that fit both the resource needs and the producer's objectives for the land. Practices may range from simple management activities such as planting cover crops to complex structural practices such as animal waste management systems or innovative irrigation devices.
The USDA Farm Service Agency has developed a Microloan program to better serve the unique financial operating needs of beginning, niche and the smallest of family farm operations by modifying its Operating Loan application, eligibility and security requirements. The program offers more flexible access to credit and serves as an attractive loan alternative for smaller farming operations like specialty crop producers and operators of community supported agriculture (CSA) These smaller farms, including non-traditional farm operations, often face limited financing options. Eligible applicants may obtain a microloan for up to $35,000. The repayment term may vary and will not exceed seven years. Annual operating loans are repaid within 12 months or when the agricultural commodities produced are sold. Interest rates are based on the regular Operating Loan rates that are in effect at the time of the microloan approval or microloan closing, whichever rate is less. More information is available on the FSA Fact Sheet.