July 15, 2010
USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative recently highlighted Farm Service Agency (FSA) resources that can be used to expand and diversify farm businesses, preserve natural resources critical to future farm income and create links with local and regional food systems.
The Farm Storage Facility Loan program was expanded by the 2008 Farm Bill to include authority for use by vegetable, fruit, and nut producers as well as other farmers to use these loans for the construction of on-farm storage and minimal processing facilities. Controlling the product from seed to sale allows farmers to target specialty markets and retain more of the final sale price, increasing economic activity in rural areas.
Farmers and Ranchers can use FSA’s Guaranteed and Direct Loan programs either for farm ownership or for farm or ranch operating expenses, including for value-added and direct sale activities. The 2008 Farm Bill included special provisions to increase FSA credit opportunities for beginning, youth and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. These direct loans and guarantees are designed specifically for producers not yet able to receive financing through commercial lending sources.
FSA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) helps producers take fragile land out of production and establish conservation practices on working lands. Implementing conservation practices not only preserves and beautifies farmland but changing to sustainable production practices can allow farmers to realize a better price for their products through adopting value-added production methods. The new wildlife habitat the conservation practices create also offer new income opportunities through agritourism and hunting activities.
NSAC submitted comments this week to FSA on the new CRP-TIP program to help beginning and minority farmers and ranchers secure land coming out of the CRP program to engage in sustainable grazing or sustainable cropping operations.
You can get more information about all of these programs at your local FSA office.
According to FSA, their direct and guaranteed lending volume was up nearly 30 percent in the first nine months of Fiscal Year 2010 and the agency has requested additional funding from Congress that may come soon. In the meantime, county offices will continue to process all applications in expectation of supplemental funding or 2011 appropriations.