USDA expands loans for new, existing farmers

Starting next month, new and existing family farmers will be able to borrow more money from the federal government, the Agriculture Department (USDA) announced Tuesday. 

Starting Nov. 7, farmers will be able to take out microloans up to $50,000, up from the previous limit of $35,000. 

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The changes, a result of the farm bill Congress passed earlier this year, include the department expanding eligibility for the loans and streamlining the process to obtain them

"These new flexibilities, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, will help more people who are considering farming and ranching, or who want to strengthen their existing family operation,” Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden said in a statement.

New farmers, as well as small and mid-sized farmers will be allowed seven years to repay the loans.

More than half of the department’s loans go to new farmers, said USDA, which has made nearly $23 billion from 165,000 loans since 2010.

According to the department, the loans can be used to purchase livestock, feed, equipment, fuel and farm chemicals, family living expenses and to make minor repairs to buildings.