On the Line: Food and Jobs
Lack of access to financial capital is a chief obstacle for newer farmers in the United States. This problem is urgent because the vast majority of farmers are at retirement age, and few of their children are choosing to stay in agriculture. A next generation of farmers is essential for future food security. New farmers are also important to economic security as small businesses that create jobs when they spend and invest locally.
The Financing Farming in the U.S. (FFUS) project formed in 2010 to explore this problem and solutions to it. It’s national a team of community lenders and small farm business advisors, which the Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University convenes.
The FFUS project has been busy exploring ways to build better connections between lenders, which increasingly know little about agriculture, and smaller diversified farmers, which present some unusual business models compared to conventional farming. In particular, the project has been providing training for lenders through the U.S. Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institution’s (CDFI) Fund.
New Resources Available
Here are some links to the project’s work that provide more background and helpful approaches.
Case studies of 5 CDFI approaches/experiences
Background for lenders on the small farm sector:
Primer on lending skills needed for the small farm sector:
Two FFUS reports on the need for building the capital flow to smaller farms and strategies for that:
Strengthening Metrics and Expanding Capital Access report (2012): http://foodsystems.msu.edu/uploads/file/FFUS_Strengthening_Metrics_report.pdf
Financing Farming in the U.S. (initial report, 2010)