Farm Service Agency Working to Help Beginning Farmers

Athens, GA

With less than two percent of the population involved with production agriculture, attracting a younger demographic to the industry is vital for food security, especially with a third of farmers being sixty-five or older. That’s one of the main goals for FSA, who recently held this meeting in Athens to encourage farmers new to the business.

“You know, our food and food security is of vital importance,” says Chuck Tyson, FSA Farm Loan Chief. “We’re having the new and beginning farmers come in and we’re going to try to give them a helping hand to lift them up so that they’ll be able to produce and develop a program to help in the future to provide safe and secure food for the nation.”

However, that security doesn’t come cheap as the cost to start up a new farming operation is the number one obstacle young producers must overcome.

“I would say the biggest hurdle they have to face is the availability of credit. It is very, very expensive to break into agriculture and farming. Whether it’s aquaponics, whether it’s a small niche market; that is a big hurdle. But the availability of credit, being able to get started and not be such a burden; being able to work with them, I think is the key to bringing in the new and beginning farmers,” says Tyson.

That is exactly what the Farm Service Agency is looking to accomplish with a variety of low interest loans that is sure to satisfy each farmers need, no matter how big or small.

“We have direct loans and we have guaranteed loans. The direct loans are administered by FSA itself and they go up to six hundred thousand dollars for an operating loan. Farm ownership loan, four hundred thousand, which can be a term loan, which can be termed out up to seven years. We have a microloan for people who have very limited experience that are coming in as new farmers that goes up to fifty thousand dollars,” says Tyson.

The good news is that taking advantage of these programs is now easier than ever, as getting information and filling out applications can now be done in a much shorter amount of time.

“I’m excited, especially on the farm loan side, with some of the new tools that are coming out that are geared towards our younger farmers that makes it easier to apply for a loan,” says Tyson. “We have a new loan application tool. We have a shortened application process, but it’s very important that we begin to bring in a new generation of farmers because we’re seeing some of the farmland move out of the traditional older farmers hands.”

By: Damon Jones