America's next generation of farmers and ranchers are supported through FSA's "Beginning Farmer" direct and guaranteed loan programs. Farm Ownership loans can provide access to land and capital. Operating loans can assist beginning farmers in become prosperous and competitive by helping to pay normal operating or family living expenses; open doors to new markets and marketing opportunities; assist with diversifying operations; and so much more. Through the Microloan program, beginning farmers and ranchers have an important source of financial assistance during the start-up years.
While FSA is fully committed to all farmers and ranchers, there is a special focus on the particular credit needs of farmers and ranchers who are in their first 10 years of operation. Each year, FSA targets a portion of its lending by setting aside a portion of all loan funds for financing beginning farmer and rancher operations. With the single exception of the Direct Farm Ownership Down Payment Loan, the Beginning Farmer classification is not related to a type of loan program; it references a specific, targeted funding source.
Let's say the average size farm for "ABC County" is 94 acres. 30 percent of the average, rounded to the nearest tenth, is 28.2 acres. So, to meet the beginning farmer requirement, a loan applicant may not own more than 28.2 acres when the loan application is submitted.
Being a beginning farmer is one of the requirements to be eligible for the Direct Farm Ownership Down Payment Loan. Down Payment loan funds may be used only to partially finance the purchase of a family farm. Loan applicants must contribute a minimum down payment of 5 percent of the purchase price of the farm and the Agency will finance 45 percent to a maximum loan amount of $300,150. The balance of the purchase price not covered by the down payment loan and the loan applicant's down payment may be financed by a commercial lender (XLS, 275KB), private lender, a cooperative, or the seller.
The meaning of "at the beginning" is clear from its parts. This expression is used to refer to the time when or place where something starts; it is used to refer to points in time and space and also to fairly long periods of time and fairly large extents of space. ("At the beginning of the story" can be used to refer to both the first few sentences and to the first chapter or chapters. "At the beginning of the trail" can be used to refer to both the first few meters and the first part of a trail, which can be quite substantial, even a fifth or fourth or more.)
The originally rare and traditionally deprecated usage of "in the beginning of" (instead of "at the beginning of") has become more common but is still ignored by most dictionaries and other authorities or labeled as unidiomatic or incorrect. Interestingly, there is only rarely confusion between the parallel expressions "in the end" and "at the end (of)".
The Agriculture Act of 2014 provided an additional $20 million per year for 2014 through 2018. The reasons for the renewed interest in beginning farmer and rancher programs are as follows: the rising average age of U.S. farmers; the 8% projected decrease in the number of farmers and ranchers between 2008 and 2018; and the growing recognition that new programs are needed to address the needs of the next generation of beginning farmers and ranchers.
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the 2018 Farm Bill) reauthorized the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and provides mandatory funds for which supports education, mentoring, and technical assistance initiatives for beginning farmers and ranchers.
Starting a farm is difficult, and succeeding beyond the first few years may be even more so. Beginning farmers and ranchers nation-wide face unique challenges to achieve their farm goals and aspirations. The long-term goal of the Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition (VBFRC) is to improve opportunities for beginning farmers and