Additional $100,000 for young Texas farmers available
Houston County Courier
AUSTIN - In an effort to as-sist with the challenges asso-ciated with starting or expand-ing a farming or ranching op-eration in Texas, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples today announced the availability of an additional $100,000 in grants through the Texas Department of Agriculture's Young Farmer Grant Program. The program, which has already awarded $100,000 to 13 eligible farmers this year, is designed to help young farmers enter or enhance a production agriculture career. "As our population increas-es, we must do what we can to recruit new agriculture pro-ducers and assist current ones with expanding operations to meet the growing demand on our food and fiber supplies," Commissioner Staples said. “Starting a career in produc-tion agriculture is a huge fi-nancial investment, and through the Young Farmer Grant Program we can help give young farmers the capital they need to start or expand much-needed operations.” Young Farmer Grants are available to individuals who are at least 18, but younger than 46. Applicants must make dol-lar-for-dollar matching ex-penditures to sustain, create or expand the proposed projects. The individual grant limit per application is $10,000. The current application deadline is May 14. In 2009, Commissioner Staples proposed, and the 81st Texas Legislature authorized, the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority (TAFA) to establish the Young Farmer Grant Pro-gram. Figures from the 2007 Census of Agriculture show the average age of Texas far-mers is increasing. Farmers ages 25 to 34 make up just 5 percent of Texas far-mers, while farmers under 25 account for just 1 percent. The rising age of Texas farmers, combined with the small num-ber of young people choosing farming as an occupation, raises concerns about whom will fill the gaps of providing food and fiber in the future. In addition to the Young Farmer Grant Program, TAFA includes three programs de-signed for eligible applicants who wish to establish or en-hance their farm or ranch op-eration, or establish agricul-ture-related businesses: Agricultural Loan Guarantee: This program provides guar-antees based on a tiered struc-ture not to exceed $750,000 or 70 percent of the loan amount, whichever is less. The program also provides an interest rebate of up to $5,000 per year to eligible borrowers as part of the guarantee process. Interest Rate Reduction: AFA can facilitate commer-cial lending that may result in below-market interest rates. Eligible applicants must intend to use the proceeds under this program in a manner that will help foster the creation and expansion of a Texas agricul-tural business. Young Farmer Interest Rate Reduction: Even more beneficial than the standard interest rate re-duction program, the Young Farmer Interest Rate Reduc-tion program offers young farmers greater rate reductions through TAFA. The program is open to any person at least 18, but younger than 46, who proposes to use the proceeds to help foster the creation and expansion of a Texas agricul-tural business. For more information about the Young Farmer Grant and other TAFA programs, visit www.TexasAgriculture.gov.