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Rural Microloans in the Farm Bill?

The Farm Bill expires at the end of September 2012 and is being marked-up in Congress.

Senator Harkin and Senator Casey have introduced a microloan amendment (SA 2245) to the Farm Bill. The amendment would authorize micro-lending opportunities within the Department of Agriculture. If adopted, this amendment would allow USDA’s Farm Service Agency to make small loans up to $35,000 tailored to meet the needs of small, young, beginning, and veteran farmers and ranchers.

The new loan program would be funded out of the existing direct and guaranteed operating loan portfolios, and would streamline the application process to facilitate participation. This amendment would also give FSA discretionary authority to establish intermediary lender pilot projects in collaboration with non-governmental or community-based organizations.

Capital is the number one need of young and beginning farmers in the United States. The microloan program would enable small and beginning farmers to access capital that meets their needs and reflects the scale of their operations. These farmers are often looking for smaller loans when they’re first getting started in agriculture and have faced significant hurdles in obtaining loans through existing federal credit programs.

Take Action: Support this amendment to be included in its entirety in the final Senate bill.