Cover photo for Microloan Programs

Microloan Programs

Farm Service Agency

The focus of Microloans is on the financing needs of small, beginning farmer, niche and non-traditional farm operations, such as truck farms, farms participating in direct marketing and sales such as farmers’ markets, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), restaurants and grocery stores, or those using hydroponic, aquaponic, organic and vertical growing methods.

Direct farm ownership microloans:

  • Make a down payment on a farm

  • Build, repair, or improve farm buildings, service buildings, farm dwelling

  • Soil and water conservation projects

  • May be used as a downpayment farm ownership loan

  • May be used in joint financing

Direct farm operating microloans:

  • Essential tools

  • Fencing and trellising

  • Hoop houses

  • Bees and bee equipment

  • Milking and pasteurization equipment

  • Maple sugar shack and processing equipment

  • Livestock, seed, fertilizer, utilities, land rents, family living expenses, and other materials essential to the operation

  • Irrigation

  • GAP (Good Agricultural Practices), GHP (Good Handling Practices), and organic certification costs

  • Marketing and distribution costs, including those associated with selling through farmers' markets and community supported agriculture operations

  • Pay for qualifying OSHA compliance standards (federal or state)


As with the regular Operating loan program, traditional and non-traditional family farms and ranches may be eligible for Microloan financing.

General eligibility requirements include:

  • Must not have Federal or State conviction(s) for planting, cultivating, growing, producing, harvesting, storing, trafficking, or possession of controlled substances

  • Have the legal capacity to incur the loan obligation

  • Be able to show an acceptable credit history

  • Is a citizen, non-citizen national or legal resident alien of the United States, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and certain former Pacific Trust Territories

  • Have no previous debt forgiveness by the Agency, including a guarantee loan loss payment

  • Be unable to obtain sufficient credit elsewhere, with or without an FSA loan guarantee

  • Not be delinquent on any Federal debt, other than IRS tax debt, at the time of loan closing

  • Not be ineligible due to disqualification resulting from Federal Crop Insurance violation


Microloan versus FSA's "regular" loan:

Direct Farm Ownership Microloans:

  • No appraisal needed

  • Verification of non-farm income unnecessary unless required for repayment

  • Successful repayment of an FSA Youth loan may be used towards the required 3 years of management experience

Direct Farm Operating Microloans:

  • The Microloan program allows for situations where production yield history or reporting is impractical, not relevant to the proposal submitted, or is not available.

  • Modified farm managerial experience requirements accommodate smaller farm operations, beginning farmers, and those with no farm management experience. Small business experience plus any farm experience, along with a self-guided apprenticeship, is a way to meet the farm management requirement.

  • Rural Youth loan recipients with a successful repayment history, or youth who have participated in an agriculture-related organization, can meet the modified managerial ability requirements with those experiences.

For the direct ownership microloan, the maximum term is 25 years.

For the direct operating microloan, the repayment period will vary depending upon the purpose of the loan. General operating and family living expenses are due within 12 months or when the agricultural commodities sell. For larger purchases such as equipment or livestock, the term will not exceed 7 years.

Application Instructions

It recommended that you call and make an appointment with your nearest Farm Loan Officer or Farm Loan Manager. Agency officials are required to:

  • Help loan applicants complete FSA forms and gather information necessary for a complete application;

  • Explain the application procedure, process, and the requirements for a complete application;

  • Assist loan applicants in completing FSA forms and identifying sources of information needed for a complete application, if assistance is requested;

  • Inform loan applicants of other technical assistance providers who may be of assistance at minimal or no charge. Some examples include, and are not limited to, the Cooperative Extension Service, non-profit organizations and institutions, the Intertribal Agriculture Council, and other similar organizations; and

  • Advise applicants of alternatives that will help overcome any possible barriers to being determined eligible for an FSA loan.

Suggestions for First Meeting with FSA

  • Have a general idea of what it is you want to do and be able to identify your goals. What type of operation do you have or want to have? What do you need to operate that farm or ranch? How will you market your product(s)? How much do you need? What are your projections?

  • Good recordkeeping is very important. If you do not have your records organized, it is a good idea to try and put all your income and expenses into an understandable format. It does not have to be fancy. Also, what is happening inside the household is just as important as your business needs. Expenses such as food, clothing, mortgage or rent, insurance, taxes, medical costs, credit card payments, education expenses, and other consumer debt are part of the farm plan calculations. Know your costs. Bring your records with you.

  • Remember to bring any financial records, which can include tax returns, for the most recent production cycle to assist in projecting the cash flow for your loan proposal. If you need to rely on off-farm income to repay the loan, bring in your last few pay stubs.

  • Bring copies of any written leases to the office with you if you are leasing land or equipment.

  • It is a prudent idea to check your credit report before applying for a loan. This allows you to spot any errors or research events that may have negatively impacted your credit. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The FCRA promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation's credit reporting companies. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, enforces the FCRA with respect to credit reporting companies.

  • Many answers can be found in the booklet, "Your Guide to FSA Farm Loans.

Updated June 15, 2023

Image Credit: US Department of State

This information was gathered from public sources. Ambrook is not responsible for or able to affect the results of any financial programs listed, nor are they responsible for any incorrect information that is listed or is on the hyperlinked external sites. All information is subject to change.

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