WASHINGTON – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will begin offering farm ownership microloans, creating a new financing avenue for farmers to buy and improve property.

These microloans will be helpful to beginning or underserved farmers, U.S. veterans looking for a career in farming, and those who have small and mid-sized farming operations.

“Many producers, especially new and underserved farmers, tell us that access to land is one of the biggest challenges they face in establishing and growing their own farming operation,” said Harden.

“USDA is making it easier for new farmers to hit the ground running and get access to the land that they need to establish their farms or improve their property.”

The microloan program, observing its third anniversary, has been hugely successful, providing more than 16,800 low-interest loans, totaling over $373 million to producers nationwide.

The loans have helped farmers and ranchers with operating costs such as feed, fertilizer, tools, fencing, equipment and living expenses since 2013.

Seventy percent of loans have gone to new farmers.

Now, microloans will also help with farmland and building purchases, plus soil and water conservation improvements.

FSA designed the expanded program to simplify the application process, expand eligibility requirements and expedite smaller real-estate loans to help farmers strengthen their operations.

Microloans provide up to $50,000 to qualified producers and can be issued to applicants directly from the USDA Farm Service Agency.

The microloan effort is another USDA resource for America’s farmers and ranchers, especially as new and beginning farmers and ranchers look for the assistance they need to get started.

To learn more about the program, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/microloans or contact your local FSA office.

To find your nearest office location, visit http://offices.usda.gov.