USDA enhances Farm Storage Facility Loan program

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[March 18, 2014]  SPRINGFIELD Last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the expansion of the Farm Storage Facility Loan program, which provides low-interest financing to producers. The enhanced program includes 22 new categories of eligible equipment for fruit and vegetable producers and makes it easier for farmers and ranchers around the country to finance the equipment they need to grow and expand.

This is part of a broader effort as announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to help operators of small and midsized farms and ranches.

Producers with small and midsized operations, and specialty crop fruit and vegetable growers, now have access to needed capital for a variety of supplies including sorting bins, wash stations and other equipment related to food safety. A new, more flexible alternative is also provided for determining storage needs for fruit and vegetable producers, and waivers are available on a case-by-case basis for disaster assistance or insurance coverage if available products are not relevant or feasible for a particular producer.

Additionally, Farm Storage Facility Loan security requirements have been eased for loans between $50,000 and $100,000. Previously, all loans in excess of $50,000 required a promissory note and additional security, such as a lien on real estate. Now, loans up to $100,000 can be secured by only a promissory note.

"The Farm Storage and Facility Loan program has helped American farmers and ranchers to finance on-farm storage for almost 13 years," said Juan M. Garcia, administrator of the Farm Service Agency. "We anticipate these changes will increase the number of individuals who qualify for these loans and help them access new market opportunities."

The low-interest funds can be used to build or upgrade permanent facilities to store commodities. Grains, oilseeds, peanuts, pulse crops, hay, honey, renewable biomass commodities, and fruits and vegetables are eligible commodities. Grain bins, hay barns and cold storage facilities for fruits and vegetables are qualified facilities.

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Other new changes to the Farm Storage Facility Loan program will allow FSA state committees to subordinate Commodity Credit Corp.s lien position.

These changes to the program were issued via an official notice to state and county Farm Service Agency offices and became effective immediately.

Since May 2000, more than 33,000 loans have been issued for on-farm storage, increasing grain storage capacity by 900 million bushels.

More information about tools and resources available to operators of small and midsized farms will be rolled out in the coming months, including information about access to capital, risk management, food safety and locating market opportunities. (See related USDA Web page: Resources for Small and Mid-Sized Farmers.)

Visit or an FSA county office to learn more about FSA programs and loans, including the Farm Storage Facility Loan program.

[Text from USDA news release received from the Illinois Farm Service Agency]

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