New microloans expand Haywood County small farm finance options

Jan 25, 2013

New and beginning farmers and producers in Haywood County now have an agricultural microloan credit option to consider.

Jan. 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) began offering its customers a microloan designed to help farmers and producers with credit needs of $35,000 or less.

This loan features a streamlined application and a simplified qualification process built to fit the needs of new and smaller producers.

“This innovative offering will be more customer-friendly than our larger, more traditional loan programs,” said Barbara Smith.  “Haywood County farms, and those beginning a farm, may receive a smaller loan for start-up or operational needs, making this a great new tool to consider.

“For those selling at farmers’ markets or through community-supported agriculture operations (CSAs), a microloan might serve their needs perfectly,” Smith continued.  “And the reduced paperwork associated with the new microloan will help expedite the process for everyone.”

In 2012, the Farm Service Agency provided farm loan assistance to agricultural producers in North Carolina.  Last year, 325 operating loans totaling over $24 million accounted for the majority of the loans extended, while 21 farm ownership loans accounted for over $4 million.  In 2012, emergency loans were written for 42 producers in North Carolina recovering from natural disasters.

“The interest rate of 1.25 percent on the new FSA microloan is a great benefit for farmers and producers who are just starting, in need of capital and on a tight budget,” Smith said.  “Producers in Haywood County can contact the Haywood County FSA office for details to determine if they qualify for a microloan.”

The microloan term can be up to seven years.

In response to tighter financial markets, USDA has expanded the availability of farm credit, helping farmers refinance loans across the U.S. Since 2009, USDA has provided more than 128,000 loans to family farmers totaling more than $18 billion. Over 50 percent of the loans went to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

For more information on microloans and other FSA programs, contact the Haywood County USDA service center at (828-456-3557/ 589 Raccoon Road, Waynesville.

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