Funding May Be as Near as a USDA office

Carol Sanders | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences

farmDr. Henry English, head of the Small Farm Program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), reminds farmers and ranchers seeking ownership and farm operating loans that they may need to look no further than their Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. Each year FSA sets aside a portion of its loan funds to help underserved applicants, said Dr. English.

“For farm loan program purposes, underserved groups are women, African Americans, American Indians, Alaskan natives, Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders,” said Dr. English.

Farm ownership loans may be used to purchase or enlarge a farm or ranch; purchase easements or rights of way; build or improve buildings, such as a home or barn; promote soil and water conservation and development; and pay closing costs.

Operating loans may be used to purchase livestock, poultry, farm equipment, fertilizer and other materials necessary to operate a successful farm. Loans and can also be used for family

living expenses, refinancing debts under certain conditions, paying salaries of farm laborers, installing or improving water systems for home livestock, or irrigation use and other similar improvements.

Underserved or beginning farmers and ranchers who cannot obtain credit from a bank can apply for either a FSA direct loan or a guaranteed loan. Direct loans are made to applicants by FSA while guaranteed loans are made by lending institutions who arrange for FSA to guarantee the loan.

Beginning or underserved farmers and ranchers, especially those unfamiliar with the process, may find the application process rather daunting, said Dr. English, as the application form is really a series of multiple forms with multiple pages.

For help with the loan process, applicants in southeast Arkansas can contact multi-county agent Stephan Walker at or (870) 575-7237. Applicants in southwest Arkansas can contact Kandi Williams at at (903) 306-8663. Producers can also contact their local FSA office. Also, information is online at

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Program offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.


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