COLUMBIA - U.S. Department of Agriculture South Carolina Farm Service Agency Acting Executive Director W. Jack Nettles reminds producers that FSA offers specially targeted farm ownership and farm operating loans to underserved applicants as well as beginning farmers and ranchers.
"Each year, a portion of FSA's loan funds are set aside to lend to targeted underserved and beginning farmers and ranchers," Nettles said. "Farming and ranching is a capital intensive business, and FSA is committed to helping producers start and maintain their agricultural operations."
During fiscal year 2017 (Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2017), South Carolina FSA obligated approximately $39 million in loans to underserved borrowers and beginning farmers and ranchers.
USDA defines underserved applicants as 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 farm loan program purposes, underserved groups are women, blacks, American Indians and Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders.
In order to qualify as a beginning farmer, the individual or entity must meet the eligibility requirements outlined for direct or guaranteed loans. Additionally, individuals and all entity members must have operated a farm for less than 10 years.
Applicants must materially or substantially participate in the operation. For farm ownership purposes, the applicant must not own a farm greater than 30 percent of the average size farm in the county at the time of application. All direct farm ownership applicants must have participated in the business operations of a farm for at least three years out of the last 10 years before the date the application is submitted. If the applicant is an entity, all members must be related by blood or marriage, and all entity members must be eligible beginning farmers.