There is a little known group in Nebraska that is working together on beginning farmer and rancher issues. The group, known as the Nebraska Beginning Farmers Network, brings together state, federal, and non-profit agencies to discuss and advance the number of beginning farmers in Nebraska. What agencies are involved and how can they help?
Nebraska Department of Agriculture:
A federal organization which is part of the USDA, the FSA assists beginning farmers with both direct and guaranteed operational and ownership loans. The FSA has also recently introduced microloans. The FSA places an emphasis on assisting beginning and socially-disadvantaged farmers.
NIFA is a Nebraska agency which provides numerous financial resources, including the Beginning Farmer/Rancher program. The Beginning Farmer/Rancher program allows for the purchase of land or livestock and machinery/equipment. The Beginning Farmer/Rancher program works with banks and private sellers/lenders to facilitate loans up to $500,000 for land and $62,500 for livestock and machinery/equipment. The loans are at below market interest rates because NIFA provides a bond to make the interest tax-exempt on both state and federal tax returns for the lender.
Other financing programs:
Other programs and agencies, such as Farm Credit Services and the Nebraska Department of Revenue, also have programs for beginning farmers. Additionally, while programs such as EQIP and Value Added Producer Grants cannot be used for ownership, they are nonetheless powerful tools to start and/or expand your operation.
Other Network Participants:
The Network also includes organizations and agencies which provide non-financial assistance. For example, the Center for Rural Affairs has a LandLink program to match established farmers with beginners as well as other information for beginning farmers. Interested in learning the latest and greatest in farming innovations or just about an aspect of farming you are unfamiliar? Check out the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Nebraska’s NRCS program also provides technical assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers.
There are other members of the Network which are listed on the Network’s webpage. Take a look at it and I’m sure one or more of the participants will be able to provide you some knowledge, assistance, or other information that is useful to your operation. And as part of the Network, you are always welcome to contact us!