FSA sees increased interest in farm loan programs

Craig Schaunaman, state executive director of USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) in South Dakota haas announced that the South Dakota FSA Farm Loan Program Division has approved 1,385 loans to South Dakota family farmers and ranchers for a total of $160.5 million in fiscal year 2010 beginning on Oct. 1, 2009.

"FSA is pleased to report that 780 of the 1,385 total loans went to beginning farmers and socially disadvantaged applicants for a total of $60.9 million," said Schaunaman.  This represents a 7.4 percent increase in total loan volume and 16.4 percent increase in beginning farmer and socially disadvantaged loan volume from fiscal year 2009. "The South Dakota FSA farm loan staff has made a concerted effort to educate farmers and ranchers about the benefits of FSA Farm Loan Programs."

FSA provides direct and guaranteed loans to beginning farmers and ranchers who are unable to obtain financing from commercial credit sources.  Each fiscal year, the agency targets a portion of its direct and guaranteed farm ownership (FO) and operating loan (OL) funds to beginning farmers and ranchers.  FSA also helps established farmers who have suffered financial setbacks from natural disasters, or whose resources are too limited to maintain profitable farming operations.

A beginning farmer or rancher is an individual or entity who (1) has not operated a farm or ranch for more than 10 years; (2) meets the loan eligibility requirements of the program to which he/she is applying; (3) substantially participates in the operation; and (4) for FO loan purposes, does not own a farm greater than 30 percent of the median size farm in the county.  (Note: all applicants for direct FO loans must have participated in business operation of a farm for at least three years.)  If the applicant is an entity, all members must be related by blood or marriage, and all stockholders in a corporation must be eligible beginning farmers.

A socially disadvantaged (SDA) farmer, rancher, or agricultural producer is one of a group whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic, or gender prejudice because of his or her identity as a member of the group without regard to his or her individual qualities.  SDA groups are women, African Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Applications for all FSA direct loan programs are made through FSA local offices and USDA Service Centers.  Guaranteed loan applications are made with the lender.  In cases where a lender is not known to an applicant, local office personnel will assist the applicant.

Additional information about FSA's Farm Loan Programs or any other FSA programs may be found on the web at www.fsa.usda.gov.

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