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Senate Bill Would Promote Lending to Local Food Entrepreneurs

November 18, 2011


On November 17, an innovative bill that would establish a revolving loan fund program that would support local farm businesses and market gardens was introduced in the Senate.  The Growing Opportunities for Agriculture and Responding to Markets (GO FARM) Act of 2011 (S.1888) was introduced by Senators Robert Casey (D-PA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA).

The aim of this bill is to create jobs in the agriculture industry by connecting small farms with local markets, and encouraging production of food for local communities.

“Local farms are job creators in our communities,” said Senator Casey.  “This bill will support small farms in Pennsylvania, which are an essential source of economic activity and are vital to getting healthy, local food from farm to table.”

Under the proposals put forth in this bill, USDA would be given the authority to establish a loan program that would provide funding to rural organizations through a competitive grants process.  These organizations would in turn establish a revolving loan fund in order to make small, low-interest loans to producers who grow crops for local markets like schools, grocery stores, and farmers markets.

Each rural organization that receives funding under this program would be responsible for providing matching funds, and meeting the following loan program objectives:

  • To assist local producers in meeting new market opportunities;
  • To provide technical support to local farm businesses and market gardens; and
  • To recruit, educate, and assist local producers to advance local farming opportunities to meet local needs.

Loan priority would be given to small and medium-sized producers, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, specialty crop producers, and to address the nutritional needs of underserved areas.

Sen. Casey has also signed on as an original co-sponsor to both the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, which was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, which was introduced by Sen. Harkin.  Companion legislation was introduced in the House for both of these bills.

To access the legislative text of the GO FARM bill, click here.


Categories: Commodity, Crop Insurance & Credit Programs, Local & Regional Food Systems


5 Responses to “Senate Bill Would Promote Lending to Local Food Entrepreneurs”

  1. Leatrice Palmer says:

    Yes, I would be interested in this type loan. Is there any programs for Indiana. I’m a small fish farmer looking to expand. I’ve been in business now for 2 years, going on my third year in the spring. Would also do a funding match. Very interested, please contact me back. 765-478-5307

  2. bill phelps says:

    Glad to hear of the effort to support starting and expanding small scale food growers with short term funding.

    I am trying to find local prvt investment capital to aquire 3-20ac ag type propertties with a res that are vacant REO’s, that are for sale here in Sonoma county CA. I would renovate properties and start up small diverse growing operations to serve the local communities using unemployed Vets, some select homeless, and others desiring to try sustainable/organic farming.

    Until your bill is activated ,is there any resources you are aware of that I could contact for assistance and advice?

    Many thanks for your interest, Bill Phelps, cell: (310) 809-1346

  3. David Terrazas says:

    Do you have a resolution for this bill so local communities who wish to do so can demonstrate support?
    Please respond and let me know.

    Sincerely,
    David Terrazas
    Santa Cruz City Councilman

  4. bnorton says:

    Hi Bill,

    Thank you for your note! You could try USDA Farm Service Agency real estate (farm ownership) loan programs. More information is available in our grassroots guide to the farm bill here: http://sustainableagriculture.net/publications/grassrootsguide/farming-opportunities/farm-ownership-operating-loans/

  5. “Think Global, Act Local”
    The government should encourage, support & develop local products, especially related to basic daily needs, such as food.

    This lead by example given by Sen. Casey must be implemented also by other politicians. A deep concern from the politicians is a must in this issue, if only they wish their country & its citizens have equal rights to enjoy prosperity & welfare.

    Bravo Sen. Casey!

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