The economic outlook for the coming 12 months will be challenging for experienced farmers, and even more so for beginning farmers. But it’s not a death knoll. With good planning, financial obstacles can be faced and conquered, says Carl Horne, manager of young, beginning and small program and outreach for Farm Credit Services of America.

Horne told PORK Network there are three main pieces of advice he gives to young and beginning farmers: 1) Look for opportunity; 2) Build a plan; and 3) Communicate your plan with others.

Every Decision Matters
Horne says that in tough times, every decision matters, and young/beginning farmers need to be cognizant of the long-term impact of their actions. He also reminds them that many service providers are ready and willing to help them, including Farm Credit Services.

Watch this video interview with Horne for more insight:

Help from USDA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) helps support the next generation of farmers and ranchers, too, by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; extending new conservation opportunities; offering appropriate risk management tools; and increasing outreach, education, and technical support.

From 2009-2014, USDA increased its investment in new and beginning farmers across several key programs by 14.1%, and that number will increase significantly during the next 12 months.  

“By September 30, 2017, USDA will further increase access to key New and Beginning Farmer and Rancher programs, which will result in increasing investments by a value of $5.6 billion over two years. Within existing resources, USDA will expand opportunities through targeted outreach, and increased technical assistance, resulting in increasing participation in key programs by 6.6% over the goal term,” states USDA.

Access to Land and Capital
Since 2009, USDA’s Farm Service Agency has issued more than 102,000 direct and guaranteed farm operating and farm ownership loans to beginning farmers and ranchers. FSA’s microloan program is an access point to credit, with 70% of these loans going to beginning farmers. The 2014 Farm Bill revisions have assisted 1,600 farmers by increasing the loan limit and expanding credit availability for their family farming businesses.

It also facilitated more than 2,500 contracts to transition 400,000-plus acres of expiring conservation reserve program land from retired or retiring landowners to beginning or underserved producers for sustainable grazing or crop production.

The USDA states that since 2009, more than 50,000 beginning farmers and ranchers have participated in projects funded by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program (BFRP).