County Farmers Benefit From Loan Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency recently announced 2017 as a banner year for loan activity, but what does that mean for Chautauqua County?

According to local officials, it means a lot.

Katelyn Walley-Stoll, Cornell Cooperative Extension Agriculture Program Community educator, said the USDA Farm Service Agency farm loans program is utilized here in Chautauqua County. Walley-Stoll said she will often direct aspiring farmers to use it.

“When I’m working with a beginning farmer or someone trying to do something new, I will sometimes work with the USDA,” she said. “We do have an office here in the county. The farms in our area typically use USDA services and extension services.”

The USDA also provides data and information that CCE can use and analyze to help farmers.

“They’re really a big bundle of information,” she said.

Walley-Stoll said agriculture is a big industry in Chautauqua County, making the program important in this area. According to CCE, there are 1,515 farms in Chautauqua County, the most in any county in the state. The USDA said farm loans have been on the incline recently. In this year alone, more than 25,000 direct and guaranteed FSA loans went to farmers and ranchers who were just starting out or were undeserved. Over 4,200 beginning farmers received direct farm ownership loans from FSA to make their first land purchase, and of the approximately 6,500 microloans made in the last fiscal year, almost 4,900 went to beginning farmers, 1,000 went to women and 400 to veterans.

The USDA Farm Service Agency offers loans to family farmers and ranchers to support family farms. Farm loans are meant to help farmers start, purchase or expand their farming operations. FSA provides a variety of loan assistance, including direct and guaranteed farm ownership loans, operating loans and even direct Microloans up to $50,000 and EZ Guarantees up to $100,000 with streamlined application processes.

“FSA loan funds have been in high demand the last few years,” said Robert Johansson, acting deputy under secretary for the Farm Production and Conservation mission area. “We provide opportunities to qualified small, beginning and undeserved farmers who are unable to obtain commercial credit, to help them get started, gain access to land and grow their operations. Family farmers across America also come to us for credit when they face challenges to stay in business. We’re proud to support rural prosperity by providing credit to those who need it most.”

For more information on Cornell Cooperative Extension programs and services, visit www.chautauqua.cce.cornell.edu. For more information on the FSA, visit www.fsa.usda.gov.

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