Getting Started in a Farming Career

Michael Kitchell
District VII Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee

These are exciting times in American agriculture as we are starting to see more and more opportunities arising for young individuals to start their career in production agriculture. Sometimes one thinks of all the capital it takes to start farming and hesitate at the thought of the amount of cash needed to run a successful farm. I thought I would share some of the programs available to the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

If you are seriously considering starting a farming career it is always best to start out small and build your farm over time. This will allow you to build knowledge, experience and build on banker relationships.

Youth Loans
Currently, there are many institutions that can provide low interest loans to beginning farmers and ranchers. A couple main providers in Minnesota are the Rural Finance Authority (RFA) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA). America’s youth have access to the FSA Youth Loans which allows youth to borrow up to $5,000 for an income producing agriculture related project. By having youth loans at a young age, new young farmers will gain responsibilities and effective business management skills early on. These individuals will then be in a much better position for a full time farming career down the road after they have begun to grow their operation and are now looking at a full time farming career.

The FSA has a program that follows the Youth Loans called the Micro Loans. This program would fit perfectly with an individual who has outgrown the $5,000 limit of the Youth Loan Program.

Micro Loans
These Micro Loans are another stepping stone up to the full commercial loans that most farmers and ranchers utilize on a full sized farm. Micro Loans allow for up to $50,000 for operating purchases such as annual operating loans, equipment purchases or livestock purchases. They are a simplified application process which is tailored to your specific farm needs. The reduced paperwork allows it to be less intimidating when applying and allows you to build confidence in one’s self and farm before pursuing the larger dreams.

In Closing
If you or somebody you know is seriously considering starting a production agriculture career, have them look into the resources available to them. A perfect stop would be up to the local FSA office to pick up information on the Youth Loans and Micro Loans. While there you can sit down and discuss where you would like to be in the future and hear what programs are available that can help get you to your goals.