A Big Boost for Small Farmers: New Microloan Rule Proposed by FSA

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!

Navigating Farm Finances

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is offering a new webinar to help beginning farmers establish on-farm accounting habits and skills. The recorded webinar, “Farm Finances: Organizing and Understanding Your Numbers,” covers a range of topics to assist farmers in financial record-keeping and data organization, including:

  • Financial goal setting
  • Understanding financial statements
  • Assessing profitability and financial viability
  • Record keeping
  • Examining and minimizing costs
  • Seeking loans

The webinar video is available for viewing free of charge on the NCAT website.

Regional Food Hub Resource Guide Released

The National Food Hub Collaboration (composed of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA AMS), the Wallace Center at Winrock International, the National Good Food Network, the National Association of Produce Market Managers and the Project for Public Spaces) has released its Regional Food Hub Resource Guide.

This guide serves as a resource on strategies and innovative business models for those seeking to develop or participate in a regional food hub. It highlights how regional food hubs support local food systems, strengthen regional economic development and assist farmers, ranchers and buyers in reaching new markets.

For more information on food hubs visit the USDA AMS food hub portal.

Equine Operations Now Eligible for Farm Service Agency Emergency Loans

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) has expanded the FSA emergency loan program to include assistance for equine operations facing losses due to natural disasters.

Certain equine farms and ranches within or contiguous to a county  declared a disaster area by the President or the Secretary of Agriculture can apply for emergency funds to restore or replace essential property, cover production costs associated with the disaster, pay essential living expenses, reorganize the operation, and refinance certain debts.

For more information on FSA’s emergency loan program eligibility, requirements, terms and conditions, please refer to the FSA emergency loan program fact sheet and www.fsa.usda.gov.