Demographic tides are moving farmers, as a group, in an older direction.
The average U.S. farmer is now 59.6 years old — up from 57.5 in 2007 and 54.9 in 2002. Oregon is not immune to this trend; in fact, Oregon farmers are, on average, even older. It’s a trend that state officials and industry leaders would like to see reversed. After all, future farms will need people who are qualified and skilled at running them.
Enter the Beginning and Expanding Farmer Loan Program.
This program, otherwise known as the Aggie Loan program for short, has existed in various other states. Now, thanks to action by the 2013 Oregon Legislature, it is coming to Oregon. The idea is to encourage young people to farm, by helping them overcome the significant capital hurdles needed to get their business going.
From an Oregon Department of Agriculture press release:
“We recognize the challenges faced by young or beginning farmers and smaller farm operators who just don’t have the money to move forward,” says Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba. “It takes capital to succeed in agriculture. These farmers are able and willing to do all that it takes to have a viable operation, they just need a financial shot in the arm. The Aggie Bond Program can be an effective tool to make it happen.”
Borrowers must get through a qualification process, just like any other bank loan. Proceeds can be used for land, equipment, livestock and other needs, including the purchase of the business from parents or relatives seeking to hand off the family business.
Those interested in this program can find more information here, and the application here (PDF).