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Amendment targets loans for young farmers

Jeff Caldwell 05/31/2013 @ 11:46am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

An amendment to the farm bill that's received support from lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle would offer loans up to $35,000 to young and beginning farmers to get started in the agriculture business.

Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced amendment #986 that will help farmers better access their number one biggest need -- financial capital to launch and sustain their farm businesses," according to a report from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. "It authorizes a microloan program tailored for the needs of beginning and military veteran farmers and ranchers."

The Casey-Harkin-Johanns Microloan Authorization Amendment -- Senate amendment 986 -- features a plan that would "require less paperwork and allow for a longer payment period to better address the needs of small and beginning farmers," according to a report from the National Young Farmers' Coalition (NYFC).

The amendment, which would also offer low-interest farm operating loans for military veterans looking to start a farm or ranch, will see greater participation than typical FSA loan programs because of the smaller paperwork requirements and quicker likely turnaround in profit, according to NYFC.

"The idea behind the microloans is that the average beginning farmer doesn’t need the cumbersome paper trail and red tape that come with applying for one of the FSA’s regular Farm Operating Loans that have a ceiling of $300,000. Not only is the process too time-consuming, but the scales are often tilted in favor of larger farms," according to an NFC report. "Now, the beginning farmer -- who needs to borrow just $10,000 or $20,000 to purchase seeds, livestock, or equipment at the beginning of the season in order to turn a profit and pay the loan back -- has a real solution."

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