Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund

https://www.farmvetco.org/2019/01/17/2019-fellowship/

The Farmer Veteran Coalition has an exciting grant program that will be open for five weeks beginning February 1st, 2019 at 8 a.m. PST and closes on March 8th, 2019 at 5 p.m. PST.

What is in it for you?

The grant program will provide veterans with awards ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to make purchases to help with launching of their farm business.

What do you need to do?

  1. Go to the link posted on the Fellowship Fund page at www.farmvetco.org/fvfellowship. between February 1st and March 8th, 2019.
  2. Complete the application. (The application consists of both short answer and essay questions and requires veterans to submit a business plan.)
  3. Submit Application.
  4. Wait for the award announcements in April.

Webinar

A webinar to review the application followed by a Q&A session will be held Wednesday, February 13 at 2:30 p.m. PST. Registration is limited to the first 500 participants, but a recording will be posted to the Fellowship web page after it’s completed. To register, go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8095158054240674827.

Have any questions?

For eligibility and requirements, visit www.farmvetco.org/fvfellowship.

View a list of frequently asked questions by visiting www.farmvetco.org/fellowship/faq.

If you have any further questions you can call the Legal Aid of Nebraska’s Rural Response Hotline at 1-800-464-0258 or visit www.farmerandrancher.org.

To find more resources and programs for beginning farmers and ranchers please visit www.farmanswers.org, a component of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and www.usda.gov/newfarmers

FSA Youth Loans, Along With Changes to the Loan Program

The Farm Service Agency has released a new Fact Sheet about updates to various loan programs under the new Farm Bill.  The changes in the Youth Loans are interesting and open the door to agricultural to many more individuals.

But before discussing the changes, what exactly are Youth Loans?  Youth Loans are loans to individuals to establish and operate moderate sized projects that produce income in connection with participation in programs such as 4-H, Future Farmers of America, or similar programs.  The project must be part of an organized and supervised program of work designed to provide practical business and education experience.  Furthermore, the project must be planned and operated with the help of an adviser from the organization and produce sufficient income to repay the loan.

You need to be between 10 and 20 years old to qualify for a Youth Loan.  The maximum loan amount is $5,000.  The loan can be used to purchase livestock, seed, equipment and supplies; buy, rent, or repair needed tools and/or equipment; and pay operating expenses for the project.

What are the latest changes?  First, Youth Loans no longer have a rural residency requirement.  This means that a person otherwise eligible for a Youth Loan but who resided in Omaha is now eligible for a youth loan to assist with agricultural projects or business.  With the growth of urban agriculture and interest in smaller operations, the elimination of the residency requirement is good news for encouraging even younger beginning farmers to enter the profession.

Second, debt forgiveness on Youth Loans will not prevent the borrower from receiving other federal loans.  Importantly, this includes federal student loans.  Further, if delinquent on a Youth Loan, a borrower is eligible for federal student loans.

If you have any questions about Youth Loans or FSA loans in general, you are welcome to contact us!

 

 

Checking in on the FSA’s microloan program

We’ve previously discussed the FSA’s microloan program, with its possibilities for beginning farmers.   With the end of the year approaching, there is now data concerning how many loans have been made, along with information on how many of the loans went to beginning farmers, veterans, or socially disadvantaged producers.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has an interesting article that delved into the microloan statistics.  Most pertinent for Nebraska and South Dakota producers is that both states have made microloans, just not to the extent of other states.  NSAC suggests multiple reasons: total number of producers, acreage size of operations, type of operations, FSA outreach and training on microloans, and other factors.

But what I find most interesting about the article is that promise that microloans hold for beginning farmers.  Of all microloans issued, 68% went to beginning farmers.  These microloans can (and did) cover many different operations, production methods, and producer needs.  Of particular import, the microloans covered these expenses without need to resort to higher-interest options such as credit cards, lines of credit, or high interest loans.  Less money paid in interest means more money for the operation and/or living expenses for the beginning farmer.

Ultimately, it is for the beginning farmer to determine whether microloans are a good fit for the operation and farming plans.  If you want someone to discuss your operation with and whether microloans are a good fit, you are welcome to contact us.  We’re happy to help!

Friday Facts, Fun and Food

I’ve been driving around Nebraska this week and I have to say — I love fall.  The crispness in the air, the harvest coming in, fresh apples.  But winter feels like it is rapidly approaching.  Before winter happens though, some possible items to keep you warm:

Now that the government shutdown is over, what next?

Today, the federal government is open for business.  And while that is good news, there will still be some effects felt for a few days:

  • The USDA’s website is up and will be updated over the next few days.  USDA agencies, such as the Farm Service Agency, should be staffed as of this morning.
  • Because FSA is staffed, that will allow farmers and ranchers to get checks signed by the FSA, if applicable to their situation.
  • Certain statistical reports from the National Agriculture Statistical Service and World Agricultural Outlook Board will be cancelled or delayed because necessary data was not able to be collected during the shutdown.  Cancelled reports are the Crop Production and Cotton Ginnings reports from NASS and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates from WAOB, both scheduled for October 11.  The next release date is November 8.  Crop Progress reports scheduled for October 7 and October 15 are cancelled.  The October 18 Cattle on Feed report is postponed.
  • The Federal Reserve did release information on the state of the economy, including information from each Federal Reserve district concerning agricultural production.
  • No word yet on when direct payments will come out but I would expect those to begin showing up shortly.

 

Update on government shutdown for agriculture

Well, the government shutdown continues, with the Farm Bill also stalled.  What are the implications for agriculture?

The USDA is closed, with a few exceptions.

As you likely know, the federal government shut down as of midnight eastern time.  If you haven’t been to the USDA’s website yet, take a gander and I’ll be right here waiting for your return.

What services are available from the USDAThis chart, if you search for the USDA, outlines what is and is not open.  Of interest to this audience, meat and poultry inspections continue, as does grain inspections, and the loans backed by the Rural Development Division will be monitored.  The Farm Service Agency is shutdown and in operation only for emergency and natural disaster response.   The National Resources Conservation Service is shutdown with the exception of protection of life and property.  The Risk Management Agency is shutdown and no employees will be at their offices.  Market analysis, forecasts, and analysis will not be provided because the Agricultural Statistical Service and Economic Research Service will be closed.

Please keep in mind that the above concerns the government shutdown and as more information becomes available, this post will be updated.  This post does not address the Farm Bill Continuing Resolution which also expires today.  More than the Farm Bill situation Thursday.

Update:  The National Farmers’ Union has a nice rundown of the implications of the shutdown.  Of note:

Farm program payments for crops planted in 2013 would continue after the farm bill expires September 30. However, payments would not be able to be delivered under a government shutdown.

Update 2:  The Wall Street Journal also discusses the implications for farm program payments and market projections, statistics, and analysis.

Land access for beginning farmers

By far, the topic of conversation among beginning farmers is access to land.  I’ve talked to many beginning farmers about this very topic.  How, I am asked, can I obtain access to land?

Before answering that question, we should start with what we know.  According to the Kansas City Federal Reserve, Nebraska agricultural land prices for irrigated land increased 32% and non-irrigated land increased 26.8% from the previous year.  Preliminary data on Nebraska cash rent values as of February 1, 2013 tell the same tale — cash rents are up statewide, depending upon the type of land,  from 19 to 30 percent.  (Keep in mind, however, that the preliminary data is broken down by region so the numbers vary more at that analysis level.)

With the above reality, how to obtain access to land?  I can’t promise the magic bullet, but I do have some ideas:

  • Take a long, hard look at your (proposed) operation and determine how much land you need, not how much land you want.  You may be able to lease smaller parcels and obtain the land your operation needs.  This may also include considerations of geography, i.e. whether you should move if you have the opportunity to secure land.  It will also include considerations of the type of land you need and housing possibilities.
  • Search for internships and other job opportunities to gain experience and network with other producers.  Internships and other opportunities are listed and/or promoted in various locations, including Beginning Farmers.
  • Consider leases, rather than ownership, especially when building your operation.  If you know an operator, present the operator with a business proposal to lease the property.  The proposal can include utilization of programs such as Nebraska’s Beginning Farmer Tax Credit.  More information about the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit is here.
  • There are several land-matching programs out there.  The Center for Rural Affair’s LandLink program is a nation-wide program where land owners with beginning farmers.  The Center also has a comprehensive list of other land-matching programs by state and region.
  • There are websites available which list agricultural land for sale.  A Google search will find numerous resources.
  • Keep in mind various financing strategies, both for your operation and real estate.  The Farm Service Agency has a variety of financing strategies for operating loans to real estate loans.

You don’t have to in your twenties to consider these strategies.  In fact, according to the latest research, many beginning farmers (those with ten years or less experience) are between the ages of 35 and 64.  There is no reason you cannot take some time to consider what you want to farm, how you want to farm, where you want to live, and craft a long-term strategy.

There are a lot of details in this post and Legal Aid of Nebraska is happy to help you with any questions about your particular operation.  Feel free to contact us!