04 May Can you identify resources to help first-time farmers with financing in Maine?
Answer: First, I recommend that you consult the ATTRA publication Financing Your Farm: Guidance for Beginning Farmers. This publication talks about some of the options that are available for accessing moneys to start a farm business. It covers traditional bank loans, farm credit, family loans, and USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans for beginning farmers. The FSA loan option is available to farmers who have been farming less than 10 years and who have not been able to secure a bank loan. This publication is a good starting point for some ideas of how to finance your farm. Farm Credit’s FarmStart Program focuses on supplying financing for farm businesses that look like they have good potential to succeed. https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=381You may also find useful the ATTRA publication Finding Land to Farm: Six Ways to Secure Farm Land. While you may want to buy land outright, it is worth thinking about some of the ideas in this publication. If you can start farming with minimal debt, you will increase your chances of success. Leasing a farm initially might be an option for you, and there are different types of leasing agreements covered in this publication, including long-term leasing and leasing with the option to buy. https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=174Maine FarmLink helps connect land owners with people looking for land to farm. Take a look at the website at www.mainefarmlink.orgto see if there are any listings of land owners in your area looking for farmers to work their land.For any of these options, it helps to have a well-defined business plan for your farm. You can access ATTRA farm business planning tutorials on the ATTRA website at https://attra.ncat.org/tutorials/. You can run through these tutorials at your own pace as time permits, and they are a great foundation for starting to write a plan for your farm. Money lenders are going to want to see a business plan in order to consider a loan for a farm start up.Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) is an organic certifying agency in Maine. Visit the MOFGA website at www.mofga.org/Home/tabid/74/Default.aspx to see the educational services they offer to farmers in your state. They offer a beginning farmer course that focuses on business planning and financial side of farming, which is as important as the production side. They also offer a small loan program for organic farmers.You can find additional resources that could help in your endeavor by visiting the Marketing, Business & Risk Management and Beginning Farmer sections of the ATTRA website.