Indiana, PA - Indiana County

USDA farm loans available in county

on September 25, 2013 10:55 AM

Specially targeted farm loans are now available from the USDA Farm Service Agency, according to Indiana County’s FSA office spokeswoman Krystal R. Sellers.

The socially disadvantaged and beginning farmer loans are designed to help farmers purchase and operate family farms.

“With these loan programs, FSA hopes to help reverse the declining number of farmers and ranchers across the United States and especially here in Pennsylvania,” Sellers said in a release.

FSA reserves a portion of its loan funds each year for SDA Loans. USDA defines a socially disadvantaged farmer as one of a group whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic, or gender prejudice because of their identity as members of the group without regard to their individual qualities. For purposes of this program, socially disadvantaged groups are women, African Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, and Asians and Pacific Islanders.

Direct loans are made to applicants by FSA and include both farm operating and farm ownership loans. Repayment terms for direct operating loans depend on the collateral securing the loan and usually run from one to seven years.

Sellers says that repayment terms for direct ownership loans can be as long as 40 years. Interest rates for direct loans are set periodically according to the government’s cost of borrowing. The down payment loan program requires the applicant to provide a minimum down payment of 5 percent in cash and then the loan cannot exceed 45 percent of the lesser of the purchase price, the appraised value of the farm to be acquired or $500,000.

Farm ownership loan funds may be used to purchase or enlarge a farm, purchase easements or rights of way needed in the farm’s operation, erect or improve buildings such as a dwelling or barn, promote soil and water conservation and development, and pay closing costs. Farm operating loan funds may be used to purchase livestock, poultry, farm and home equipment, feed, seed, fuel fertilizer, chemicals, hail and other crop insurance, food, clothing, medical care and hired labor. Funds also may be used to install or improve water systems for home use, livestock or irrigation, and other improvements. Individuals, partnerships, joint operations, corporations and cooperatives primarily and directly engaged in farming and ranching on family-size operations may apply. A family-size farm is considered one that a family can operate and manage itself.

Applicants must meet the eligibility requirements for a given program before FSA can extend program benefits. For additional information or applications for all FSA direct loan programs, contact the local FSA office at 1432 Route 286 East, Indiana, or call at (724) 463-8547, ext. 2.

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