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Loans to underserved or beginning farmers and ranchers rose in Idaho in the most recent fiscal year, the state’s Farm Service Agency office reported.
Idaho FSA issued $59,601,134 worth of these loans in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, up 14.5 percent from $52,050,972 in the year-earlier period, said Polly Hoyt, public relations and outreach specialist with the agency in Boise.
“We are seeing an increase in the number of women running the farms, so that has been part of the increase in our loans in fiscal 2018,” she said. Idaho FSA has been marketing the program strongly, another factor.
“Farming and ranching is a capital-intensive business, and FSA is committed to helping producers start and maintain their agricultural operations,” USDA Idaho FSA Acting State Executive Director Brian Dansel said in a news release. “FSA loans are designed to make sure that everyone has access to credit, including underserved and beginning farmers and ranchers.”
USDA defines underserved applicants as those subjected to racial, ethnic or gender prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities.
Loans are made directly by FSA, or by lenders who can have FSA guarantee up to 95 percent of principal and interest — allowing lenders to extend credit to producers who do not meet normal underwriting criteria.
To qualify as a beginning farmer, the person or entity must meet eligibility requirements outlined for direct or guaranteed loans. Applicants must materially or substantially participate in the operation, and must have operated for less than 10 years.
For farm ownership purposes, applicants must not own a farm more than 30 percent of the average size of a farm in their county at the time of application. All direct farm ownership applicants must have participated in the business operations for at least three out of the last 10 years. Substitutions for one year of experience may include a year of post-secondary education in an agriculture-related field, business management experience, or military leadership or management experience.
All members of applying entities must be related by blood or marriage, and all must be eligible beginning farmers. At least one member must have three or more years of experience in the business operations of a farm.