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Resources available for new and beginning farmers

• Jan 6, 2018 at 10:00 AM

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a website to connect farm entrepreneurs with programs, services and resources for anyone interested in getting started into farming at www.usda.gov/newfarmers.

The site features advice and guidance on everything a new farm business owner needs to know, from writing a business plan, to obtaining a loan to grow their business, to filing taxes as a new small business owner, starting or expanding an operation, developing new markets, supporting more effective farming and conservation practices, and having access to relevant training and education opportunities.

By answering a series of questions about their operation, farmers can use the site’s Discovery Tool to build a personalized set of recommendations of USDA programs and services that may meet their needs.

In other news...

Farmers encouraged to sign-up for the Lake Erie CREP: This is an opportune time to take another look at your farming operation and determine if there are areas that could benefit from the establishment of one or more conservation practices. For instance, do you have a ditch or stream running through your farm that needs a filter strip? Is a particular field prone to wind erosion and stands to benefit from a windbreak? How about that one area that’s hard to farm because it’s always wet? Have you considered how FSA’s Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (Lake Erie CREP) might benefit your farming operation and help to protect the environment at the same time?

Lake Erie CREP began with the main objective to improve water quality in all of our rivers, streams, and tributaries within the Lake Erie watershed. These conservation practices will target environmentally sensitive areas to reduce sediments and nutrients, prevent water pollution and minimize the risk of flooding and improve the habitat for multiple wildlife species.

Conservation is voluntary. It is entirely up to the landowner or the farm operator to enroll acres in a particular program. Farmers and landowners can choose from a number of practices including grass buffer strips, hardwood tree plantings, wildlife habitat, wetlands and windbreaks that work together to prevent chemicals, soils and other contaminants from running off of cropland and into waterways. Also, participants can earn money on less economically viable land, such as land along ditch banks, streams and woodlands. In exchange for installing and maintaining these practices, you will earn a guaranteed annual rental payment for 14 to 15 years plus receive cost share and potential incentives to cover the majority of the cost of practice installation. 

The annual income from the conservation practice will be similar to what is paid for cash rent on the three predominant soils of the CREP practice area. Additional soil rental rate incentives are also available. Also, FSA can provide you with an estimate of the payments you would be eligible to receive for the duration of the contract period (14 to 15 years).

Interested landowners and farmers should contact their FSA Office or the SWCD office to learn more about the Lake Erie CREP.

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Direct farm ownership loan program low-interest loans can help producers start or expand farms: The Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds anyone interested that there is funding available for eligible farmers for low interest loans through FSA’s direct farm ownership program.

Eligible producers can borrow up to $300,000 in direct farm ownership loans to buy or enlarge a farm, construct new farm buildings or improve structures, pay closing costs, or promote soil and water conservation and protection. The interest rate on select loans can be as low as 1.5 percent with up to 40 years to repay.

New and beginning farmers, military veterans, and underserved farmers also are encouraged to apply. Each year Congress targets 80 percent of available loan funds to beginning and targeted underserved farmers and producers.

Targeted underserved groups include American Indians or Alaskan Natives, Asians, Blacks or African Americans, Native Hawaiians, or other Pacific Islanders, Hispanics and women. To find out more about the FSA direct farm loan program or other loans available, contact your county FSA office to setup an appointment with a Loan Approval Official.

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