And that means… microloans?
Ok. Thanksgiving doesn’t really have anything to do with microloans. But, just because I want to write about microloans doesn’t mean I should pretend it isn’t Thanksgiving, right?
Right. So, some readers may recall that USDA introduced a new microloan program earlier this year. What’s the status of this program? The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) wanted to find out, and asked: “Are USDA Microloans Reaching Farmers Across America?”
The short answer is: Yes!
A still relatively cursory, but slightly more expository answer might go something like: 3,400 loans have been granted in more than 50 states, more so in some locales than others, more so to some demographics than others, and there’s probably some room for improvement, but things are looking pretty good!
Beginning farmers are a big part of the microloan story. NSAC notes, “Although there is no explicit priority or set-aside for microloans made to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers,” typically the beginning farmer population operates a smaller than average operation and has smaller credit needs. Thus, NSAC was unsurprised that 68 percent of all microloans made this year went to beginning farmers. NSAC reports: “In total, over 2,300 beginning farmers benefited from this new streamlined loan program, and were able to secure over $44 million to invest in their up and coming farming operations this year.”