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Agriculture Today

New microloan proposal helps small farmers

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June 13, 2012 | 4,218 views | Post a comment

RICHMOND, Va. -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced May 23 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made substantial, year-over-year gains in expanding credit opportunities for farmers and ranchers across the United States. The increase in farm and operating loans has helped improve farmer and rancher productivity, launched new start-up operations, and ensured opportunities in agriculture for many more Americans. With expanded access to credit, the USDA is helping a new generation of farmers sustain and build upon what is now the most productive period in history for American agriculture. To that end, Vilsack announced the Department is seeking comments on a new microloan program to help small and family operations progress through their start-up years with needed resources, while building capacity, increasing equity, and eventually graduating to commercial credit.

As part of ongoing efforts to streamline and modernize its service to American agriculture, Vilsack announced that the USDA is also seeking comments on a proposal to improve its Operating Loan Program to better meet the needs of small farmers with a new microloan program. Under the microloan proposal, producers who need a loan for less than $35,000 may apply using simplified and streamlined procedures. The program will cut the required paperwork in half and simplify the process to obtain a loan. The goal of the microloan program is to better meet the credit needs of small farm operations while making more effective use of Farm Service Agecncy resources. Small farmers often rely on credit cards or personal loans, which carry high interest rates and have less flexible payment schedules, to finance their operations. The improvements aim to offer a more efficient processing time for smaller loans, adding flexibility to some of the eligibility requirements and reducing the application requirements.

The proposed rule may be viewed at http://1.usa.gov/KNPo1v or through the Farm Service Agency home page at http://www.fsa.usda.gov.

Comments should be submitted no later than Monday, July 23, by either of the following methods:

•Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

•Mail: Director, Loan Making Division (LMD), FSA, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Stop 0522, Washington, D.C. 20250-0522.

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