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Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: Beginning Farmers

November 3, 2008

Lyons, NE - With credit hard to come by these days, it is increasingly difficult for entrepreneurs to start any new businesses - but there's good news for those wanting to get into agriculture. Traci Bruckner of The Center for Rural Affairs/em> says there are millions of dollars available through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program to help with things like credit management, apprenticeships, developing markets, and gaining access to land.

"There 75 million dollars available over the life of the farm bill; that's really quite a bit of money to spread around. And that means that there's going to be enough money to get something going in half the states each year."

Bruckner attended one of the listening sessions held by the USDA in Washington, D.C. recently, and she says most of those in attendance agreed that the best way to dole out the money is to give it to projects that help beginners establish high-value niche markets. She says this also benefits rural communities.

"A big part of community development is establishing the next generation of farmers and ranchers. So any services that can be provided to do that are a big benefit for rural communities."

Bruckner says the USDA is still putting the finishing touches on the program and taking ideas from the public. The deadline to offer comments by mail or e-mail is November 14th.

Dick Layman/Steve Powers, Public News Service - IA