Producers who suffered severe damage from Hurricane Sandy have until January 29, 2013 to sign up for cost-share assistance through the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP). Removing debris from farmland and restoring permanent fencing are two rehabilitation measures that may be eligible for assistance of up to 75% of their cost. To be eligible, approved restoration measures must not be carried out until an application has been filed, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) has done an on-site inspection of damage, and a needs determination has been made by the appropriate agency.
The USDA has launched a new program that will provide micro-loans of up to $35,000 to small, beginning, and socially disadvantaged farmers. The program aims to help producers pay for start-up expenses (like hoop houses for season extension, essential tools, irrigation, delivery vehicles, etc.) and annual expenses (seed, fertilizer, utilities, land rents, marketing, and distribution costs). The USDA has purposely simplified the application process for this program, making it less burdensome in comparison to traditional federal farm loans.
The claims process for Hispanic & women farmers and ranchers claiming discriminatory FSA practices is now open. Farmers who faced discriminatory denials of farm loans or service assistance by the USDA between 1981 and 2000 can file their claims through March 25, 2013. This voluntary claims process offers an alternative to litigation and requires no fees or legal representation. At least $1.33 billion will be made available for awards and payments, and an additional $160 million will be available in farm debt relief to eligible farmers and ranchers. To register for a claims package, call 1-888-508-4429 or visit www.farmerclaims.gov.
As Hurricane Sandy barrels into the Northeast, many farmers are feeling the impact of this superstorm. Family farm organizations, state departments of agriculture and emergency management agencies have issued warning, urging farmers to prepare for the storm’s damage. The National Young Farmers’ Coalition has compiled a list of preparedness suggestions to help farmers minimize destruction to their crops, livestock, equipment and farmland.
As the storm continues, farmers are encouraged to take important steps to prepare for the after-effects:
Compile important phone numbers and documents for your county extension agent, crop insurance agent, emergency management district, county Farm Service Agency (FSA) and veterinarians.
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) shared an updated farm loan program factsheet on its website with new information effective October 1, 2012. The factsheet provides an overview of the types of loans available and borrower eligibility information. Under the FSA farm loans program, farmers can apply for farm ownership loans, farm operating loans, a downpayment program for socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers, rural youth loans, emergency loans, conservation loans, land contract guarantees and loan servicing and supervised credit.
A Farm Loan Information Chart is also available, providing a concise summary for each loan program and details on the maximum borrowing amount and the rates and terms and use of proceeds for each type of loan.
Visit the FSA website for more information on FSA Farm Loan programs.
A new rule proposed by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) suggests federal programs will be better equipped to meet the needs of America’s small farmers. The rule, announced by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack last week, creates a new microloan program for small and beginning farmers, providing loans of up to $35,000. These smaller loans are tailored to provide enough capital for farmers to cover the costs of running a smaller-scale operation, with a simplified and streamlined application process.
Public comments on the proposed rule will be accepted until July 23, 2012. Make your voice heard in support of this and other programs like it that support the needs of small, beginning and sustainable family farmers—click here to view the rule and submit your comments in support of this important work!