There is no question farmers are essential workers. Without their dedication to the land, hard work and ingenuity, Americans would have little or no access to the food they need to sustain their health. Operating a 24/7 enterprise, though, has its difficulties, and sometimes farmers need financial assistance when crops fail or the economy struggles. The following financial resources can be a much-needed lifeline for farmers.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Loan opportunities for farmers are plentiful from the USDA. Whether new to the livelihood or a veteran in the field, farmers of all experience levels can find financial assistance through the USDA. Even young farmers who range in age from 10 to 20 and work with a FFA, 4-H, or Tribal youth group can apply for a loan to help sustain their agricultural endeavors. Farm Loans cover several categories including operating costs, construction projects, and land purchases. When natural disasters strike, the USDA also provides financial assistance to impacted farmers through its Discover Disaster Assistance Programs. Farmers who want to boost their crops’ production can look into grants and cost-share programs from the government, too. Urban agriculture grants and cost-share programs are available to gardeners and farmers dedicated to growing crops in an urban environment.
USDA Farm Service Agency
The USDA offers the Organic Certification Cost-Share Program designed to support organic farms of all sizes and types in the United States. With this program, organic farmers can earn 75 percent reimbursement toward the cost of certification. The USDA Farm Service Agency segments areas of need into several loan programs. Operating costs including the cost of real estate, machinery, repairs and conservation efforts fall under the Microloan Program. Farmers who need assistance with storage should look into the Farm Storage Facility Loan Program. The Conservation Reserve Program helps with the financial burden of carving out natural borders around organic crops. Some of the cost of Non-insurable crops destroyed in a natural disaster can be recouped through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.
For decades, family farms in financial ruin have counted on Farm Aid. The nonprofit organization stages musical concerts to raise money to keep family farmers working their land. A trio of talented, renowned musical geniuses — Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young — headlined the organization’s first show in 1985. They wanted to bring awareness to the crumbling landscape of family farms, and since then, their work and the efforts of the Farm Aid organization has generated approximately $57 million. The organization offers assistance directly to family farms or connects them with services or programs designed to address their needs.
Farmers have always dealt with the unpredictability of Mother Nature, losing crops to natural disasters or unfavorable weather. Now, COVID-19 has upended everyone’s lives, including farmers. To help with the financial strain caused by the pandemic, farmers can seek out assistance through the USDA Rural Development department, Farmer Relief Fund through American Farmland Trust, U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Loans, and the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA emergency mini-grants.
The costs of operating a farm are high, and making ends meet is challenging for farmers. These financial resources are designed to help farmers keep their farms in working, profitable order.