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Black Farmers Take Mule, Tractors to D.C. - 29 Jul 2016 16:56


[[html]]When John Boyd is not tending to his chickens, tobacco, grain and cattle at home in Mecklenberg County, Va., he's often working at his other job — fighting for the survival of the disappearing American black farmer.<br><br><img style="float:left;margin:10px;border:none;" src="" width="293" /><br><br>His crusade might have ended three years ago when a class of black farmers settled with the federal government in what was widely considered a milestone civil rights lawsuit. But the 1999 settlement was not the lifeline many struggling farmers thought it would be.<br><br>Thousands have had their claims rejected, payments are slow in coming, and as black farmers struggle to pay bills and stay in business, their numbers continue to dwindle.<br><br>Boyd, also the head of the National Black Farmers Association, led the charge of 60 other black farmers who came in buses and trucks from as far away as Mississippi — along with two tractors, two goats and a mule — on Thursday to Washington, D.C., where they protested in front of the U.S. Department of Agriculture building. The farmers demanded a moratorium on foreclosures, a speedier payment system under the 1999 settlement, and an end to the discriminatory lending practices they say continue.<br><br>"We are bringing our mules and livestock so people will see the lives they are affecting," Boyd said in an interview before the rally. "We're going to turn them loose in Washington because they're taking our farms. We don't have anywhere to put them."<br><br>For sure, American farmers of all races have decreased in number over the years, but none as dramatically as black farmers, who now comprise only 1 percent of the nation's nearly two million farmers, according to U.S. Census figures.<br><br>Blacks' first occupation in America was farming, Boyd pointed out. "It's going to be the first occupation to become extinct for black people," he added.<br><br>From Victory to Red Tape<br><br>As black farmers see it, the culprit in their struggles has roots as deep as their connection to the land: discrimination. When thousands of farmers joined the class-action lawsuit against the USDA in 1997, they claimed that years of racial bias kept them from getting many of the crucial government loans and subsidies that go primarily to white farmers.<br><br>Two years later, when the USDA agreed to settle the case, the agency under then-President Bill Clinton admitted that discrimination against black farmers spanned decades. Under the terms of the settlement, every black farmer who suffered discrimination would have debts forgiven, receive $50,000 tax-free, and get priority for new loans.<br><br>But the deal was not that simple.<br><br>Black farmers did not automatically qualify for payments, they had to submit claims to independent reviewers outside the USDA. Many have been rejected, thousands missed filing deadlines, and others say their claims are not processed fast enough.<br><br>So far, the government has paid 12,597 farmers more than $629 million in claims and has forgiven at least $17.2 million in outstanding loans, according to USDA statistics.<br><br><img style="float:left;margin:10px;border:none;" src="" width="254" /><br><br>Under a consent decree, there were two tracks for the farmers' claims. Those who choose Track A must prove they tried and failed to borrow money between 1981 and 1996, that they had filed a complaint about their loan denial, and that white farmers in similar situations received loan money. Most of the approximately 22,000 farmers in the class chose this option, believing they could easily satisfy requirements.<br><br>USDA: We're Trying to Help<br><br>As it turned out, thousands more farmers than anticipated filed claims, making their lawyers' work more cumbersome, and records of the USDA and white farmers were difficult to come by. Further, the USDA challenged nearly every claim that came in.<br><br>Complicating matters even further, the black farmers grew disenchanted with their lawyers and are trying to have one removed as their counsel. In a sign of how the class-action suit got off track, the lead plaintiff withdrew from the case.<br><br>Of the farmers who filed Track A claims, 8,490 lost.<br><br>Those farmers who took the slower option, Track B, to prove more grave discrimination, have had an even worse track record. Of 181 farmers, about 50 have settled out of court, but the USDA has won 15 of 25 cases it has tried before an adjudicator and is appealing nine of the 10 it lost.<br><br>More cases are pending, and the USDA says it is working to help expedite the farmers' claims as quickly as possible, although the agency points out that the court-appointed reviewers are not under the USDA's control.<br><br>"We are looking for ways that we can speed up the claims process even more," said USDA press secretary Alisa Harrison.<br><br>Farmers Say Bias Continues<br><br>As if the hassle over the 1999 settlement was not bad enough, black farmers say they still face the kind of discrimination that inspired the lawsuit in the first place. Many local farm agency workers who discriminated against black farmers are still in their jobs, or just shifted to another office, they say.<br><br>Gary Grant, another black farmer-turned-activist in Tillery, N.C., describes a biased system that takes three times as long to process loan applications from black farmers as from whites. The longer a farmer goes without needed loan money, the more time passes before he can plant seeds or do other critical work.<br><br>Of course, a slow loan is better than none at all. When black farmers are consistently rejected for loans, it makes it even more difficult to get loans in the future, he said.<br><br>"If you have not loaned me money in five years, you have notified all creditors that you are foreclosing on me and I have to operate the farm the best way I can to feed my family, why would I have a positive cash flow [to qualify for a loan]?" Grant said. "It's your fault I don't have it."<br><br>When black farmers are approved for loans, it is often for less money to operate the same acreage as whites, Grant said. Further, blacks are often approved for "supervised status" loans, he said, which means the money does not go directly into a checking account.<br><br>Under a supervised loan, each time the farmer needs money he must leave his operation and go to the local farm agency with an estimate of what he needs to request a check. That can take a farmer away from his land all day — an expensive loss of time.<br><br>Young Generation Rejects Farming<br><br>It's no wonder that the average age of the black farmer is 60 years old, Grant said. The next generation is turning away from farming, and Grant can't blame them. "If you had to witness your parents going through what the USDA put their parents through, would you?" he said. "Why would you want everything being done to prevent you from making a living?"<br><br>Grant watched his own parents, Matthew and Florenza, struggle through 44 years of farming their land — first with discrimination, then with the federal government. Both of his parents died before they saw money from their discrimination claim. "We say the USDA killed them," Grant said.<br><br>Grant, the head of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, did not attend Thursday's rally, but led his own sit-in with 300 farmers last July in a Brownsville, Tenn., USDA office. Grant hopes to convince Congress to establish a lending agency specifically for black farm borrowers.<br><br>Later that month, Grant and other farmers met with President Bush's Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman in Washington, but said not one of the issues they discussed has been settled yet.<br><br>After the meeting, Veneman said: "Let me assure you of my personal commitment to ensuring dignity, respect and fairness throughout this Department and to all the constituents we serve. If something is wrong, we need to fix it. If our employees need more training, then we intend to give it to them. If we need to help cut the red tape and bureaucracy to better serve our constituents, then we intend to do it."<br><br>Veneman's spokeswoman said the USDA has continued working toward settling outstanding issues with black farmers.<br><br>"We have been meeting regularly with various black farmers organizations over the last 18 months," Harrison said. "Some have been productive, and we're making progress on a lot of issues. The secretary's priority is to find a continued dialogue and find those areas where we can find common ground."<br><br><a href=''></a><br><br>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

what is rural development? | Yahoo Answers - 29 Jul 2016 16:49


[[html]]The Rural Development Service (RDS) is part of the UK Government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). RDS was created in 2001, when the Farming and Rural Conservation Agency merged with the then Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food's regional service centres. <br><br><img style="float:right;margin:10px;border:none;" src="" width="328" /><br><br>The RDS is charged with the implementation of the England Rural Development Programme (ERDP), as well as a range of other rural services, placing the agency at the forefront of change in rural areas. The RDS employs 1,500 staff in eight regions, working with rural partners and local people to improve the environment, promote the conservation of wildlife and biodiversity and develop stronger rural economies and communities. <br><br><img style="float:right;margin:10px;border:none;" src="" width="322" /><br><br>Following a review by Lord Haskins, enacted in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities 2006 in March 2006, parts of the RDS are set to be integrated with English Nature and parts of the Countryside Agency from 1 October 2006 to form Natural England, with the remaining parts becoming the Commission for Rural Communities. <br><br><a href=''></a><br><br>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

U.S. seek options as farm loan funds run out of cash | Reuters - 29 Jul 2016 16:15


[[html]]CHICAGO The U.S. government's $2.65 billion operating loan program to help farmers keep their businesses going has already run out of cash, as requests for federal financial assistance grow amid the worst agricultural downturn in more than a decade, U.S. officials told Reuters on Monday.<br><br>As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is looking for other money sources "to help bridge the gap in farm operating loans as much as possible until additional funds are made available, either this year or in the next fiscal year," the agency said.<br><br>The agency declined to say what other funding it was hoping to leverage for assistance. <br><br>Such FSA loan guarantees and direct loans are often considered to be loans of last resort, say banking experts. Without the financial support, some farmers may struggle to survive until the next cash injection in the fall, say rural economy experts.<br><br>Last month, the USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) told Reuters it had expected funding for these loans or guarantees to be depleted before the program restarts Oct. 1. <br><br><object width="400" height="241"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="241"></embed></object><br><br>As the rural sector struggles with low commodity prices and mounting trade competition, U.S. grain farmers are increasingly relying on the FSA for loan assistance. Agricultural lenders, too, are turning to the agency to help guarantee the loans they are issuing to farmers - whether for operational or real estate needs.<br><br>Even with the operational loan program funding depleted, the applications from farmers and the bankers who back them continue to grow.<br><br><img style="float:right;margin:10px;border:none;" src="" width="334" /><br><br>"At this time, there are already tens of millions (of dollars) in backlog in Direct and Guaranteed operating loan accounts, and that number is expected to increase through the end of the fiscal year," the FSA said in an email.<br><br>EMERGENCY FUNDS<br><br>Last month, the FSA said it let Congress know it was tapping into $500 million in emergency funding to bolster a related program: its $2 billion guaranteed farm ownership loan program.<br><br>Such emergency funding options do not exist for the agency's operating loan programs, the agency added.<br><br>Altogether, the FSA's Farm Loan Programs are currently servicing or guaranteeing to cover operating costs and purchase or refinance farm property for more than 113,000 borrowers, totaling nearly $23 billion.<br><br>In the past, such lending typically focused on smaller or new farmers with fewer resources. But as economic erosion continues to squeeze Midwest farmers and pressure farmland values, a growing number of agricultural lenders are turning to the federal government, FSA staff said.<br><br>(Reporting By P.J. Huffstutter)<br><br><a href=''></a>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

Homes: What you can buy for $50,000 or less - 29 Jul 2016 16:10


[[html]]<img src="" alt="" srcset=" 1x, 2x"/><br><br>Photo courtesy of Zillow<br><br>Fifty-thousand dollars can still buy you a decent fixer-upper, but it's really going to depend on where you look — and how much sweat equity you want to put in.<br><br>Some problems — like broken fixtures, minor water damage or paint chipping — can be fixed with a little extra cash and elbow grease. There are plenty of these homes on the market at low price points that could be great starter homes or investment properties for the right buyer.<br><br>In Indianapolis, $50,000 will get you a three-bedroom ranch house with a deck and an updated kitchen. That same amount will buy a five-bedroom historic Detroit home with a mother-in-law suite. Older adults could head to San Diego's Leisureland community of prefabricated homes where $50,000 (and some pricey homeowners' fees) will buy two-bedrooms, a master bath and access to a swimming pool.<br><br>But other problems are outside any homebuyers' control. A sub-par school district, heavy crime or limited transportation access could sink a property's value even more over time. If it comes down to a choice between making some repairs and taking a gamble on your neighborhood, the old adage "location, location, location" won't steer you wrong.<br><br>Build a team of experts that are familiar with the local market before taking the plunge on a property. A good real estate attorney, agent or broker and especially a good home inspector can help make sure you don't get stuck with a less-than-ideal house, an underwater mortgage or a pile of legal concerns. <br><br>Here are 10 homes you can buy for $50,000 or less.<br><br><img src="" width="333" /><br><br>This is part of a series that looks at what type of house and amenities you can get at particular price points in various locations across the U.S. Be sure to check out a few of the other posts in the series: <br><br><a href=''></a><br><br>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

Are there grants for starting a farm? - 16 Jul 2016 22:12


[[html]]There are no grants available to help anyone start a farm, but there are a number of loans you can avail of to help you start a farm. In fact, most of the grants listed at the Catalog of Federal Government Assistance CFDA — a government site that lists ALL the government grants — are for farm loans. <br><br><object width="400" height="241"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="241"></embed></object><br><br>Here are the grants available for agriculture — and NONE of them are "free money" for starting farms… <br><br>10.055 USDA Direct and Counter-cyclical Payments Program <br><br>&#13;<br><br>10.056 USDA Farm Storage Facility Loans <br><br>&#13;<br><br>10.080 USDA Milk Income Loss Contract Program <br><br>&#13;<br><br>10.307 USDA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative <br><br>&#13;<br><br>10.352 USDA Value-Added Producer Grants <br><br>&#13;<br><br>10.404 USDA Emergency Loans <br><br>&#13;<br><br>10.406 USDA Farm Operating Loans <br><br>&#13;<br><br>10.435 USDA State Mediation Grants <br><br>&#13;<br><br>10.450 USDA Crop Insurance <br><br>&#13;<br><br>10.459 USDA Commodity Partnerships for Small Agricultural Risk Management Education Sessions <br><br>&#13;<br><br>15.034 DOI Agriculture on Indian Lands <br><br>&#13;<br><br>97.003 DHS Agricultural Inspection <br><br><object width="400" height="241"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="241"></embed></object><br><br><img src="" width="327" /><br><br>It is hard to find grants to start a business — even for farmers or war veterans or minorities or women. Unlike the myths that some perpetuate, federal government and even private foundations hardly give grant money for a for-profit business. And yes, grants mean PAPERWORK - lots and lots of it, that is why a cottage industry of grant writers was born. <br><br>Nonetheless, you can go to the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) and - these are two sites created by the federal government to provide transparency and information on grants. Browse through the listings and see if you can find any grant that would support a for-profit venture. <br><br>Even if you buy books on "how to get grants" or list that supposedly has information on grants — all of them are mere rehash of what CFDA has, albeit packaged differently. But still the info is the same - hardly any grants for starting a for profit business. <br><br><img style="float:right;margin:10px;border:none;" src="" width="313" /><br><br>Even SBA does NOT give out grants. From the SBA website <br><br>"The U.S. Small Business Administration does not offer grants to start or expand small businesses, although it does offer a wide variety of loan programs. (See for more information) While SBA does offer some grant programs, these are generally designed to expand and enhance organizations that provide small business management, technical, or financial assistance. These grants generally support non-profit organizations, intermediary lending institutions, and state and local governments." <br><br><a href=''></a>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

Toni Verstandig - 16 Jul 2016 15:05


[[html]]In order to set effective food and nutrition priorities, as well as strengthen access to nutritious foods and sustainable agriculture, America must view food security as integral to its national security. According to USAID, food security is "having at all times, both physical and economic access to sufficient food to meet dietary needs for a productive and healthy life." When this access is denied, food insecurity can become a catalyst of social unrest. Nowhere is this more evident than in the oscillating political seismograph that is the Middle East.<br><br>In Egypt, as food prices rose 37 percent between 2008 and 2010, protesters in Tahrir Square chanted for "bread, freedom and social justice." Prices remain high, and despite the new government's success in curbing the price of food and goods for Ramadan, it cannot avoid continued calls for bread and social justice.<br><br>The Syrian government's mismanagement of water in the midst of a pressing drought led protesters to scold the regime by saying it took their "loaf of bread." Food and water deprivation have become a weapon in a bloody crisis that is spreading throughout the region, and the situation is only worsening.<br><br>In Iraq, government officials are telling employees at the Haditha Dam that they made need to open the dam's floodgates, as fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are advancing on the dam. When the Fallujah Dam was opened after ISIS seizure in April, the agricultural results from the flooding were disastrous. We can expect the same for Haditha.<br><br>The combination of conflict and food scarcity in addition to the broadening and deepening of drought due to climate change and resource mismanagement, population displacement, and refugee crises, have all impacted the changing landscape in the region and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.<br><br>The challenge is great. According to the USDA International Food Security Assessment, the number of food insecure people is projected to increase to 868 million by 2023. However, when it comes to sustainable agriculture and global food security, the U.S. can still reap what it sows. Increased global food security will tame social unrest and advance the national security goals of the United States.<br><br><img src="" width="288" /><br><br>This will require sustained and patient thought leadership to incubate a global set of values through which leaders can influence security factors and collaborate across sectors and geographies. In the Middle East and North African region, in particular, we should weigh the costs of investing in wheat fields against the costs of investing in battlefields. The more support for programs that foster sustainable agriculture and nutrition today, the less likely the need for American intervention tomorrow. <br><br>So what is the blueprint to address this immense issue? First, we must recognize that there are many stakeholders — from the Rome-based UN food agencies, multinational corporations, and national governments to the predominantly women smallholder farmers themselves who carry the burden for most of the world's food production.<br><br>Second, we must cultivate not just thought leadership, but actionable ideas here in the US and abroad to advance solutions and bring these stakeholders to the table, whether it is in Alabama or Africa. <br><br>If we are to achieve this goal, we must think outside the box and acknowledge that talking about acting and acting are different. Therefore, we should consider in this new table we've constructed a redesign of the UN food agencies to be more collaborative and more impactful. We should think creatively and create incentives for smallholder farmers, whether it's through greater access to finance, legal rights, or technology.<br><br>Above all, as we consider this new architecture we need to run, not walk, as we are all mindful of the stunning impact that climate change is having on meeting and feeding the next nine billion. It strikes me, as His Holiness Pope Francis has recently reminded us, that we have a moral authority to address this compelling 21st century issue. We must engage, not embrace the globalization of…<br><br><a href=''></a><br><br>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

Farm credit's 100th anniversary! - Free Online Library - 15 Jul 2016 10:27


[[html]]A look back at 100 years of agriculture reveals that American<br><br>farmers, ranchers and the agribusiness infrastructure have had a<br><br>remarkable sustained success in increased productivity. According to<br><br>James Putnam, Chief Business Officer, Farm Credit East, this has<br><br>provided affordable food to the American consumer, inexpensive raw<br><br>materials to manufacturers, competitive exports overseas and far fewer<br><br>Americans working in farming.<br><br>"From the societal perspective," adds Putnam, "the&#13;<br><br>drudgery of agriculture has been greatly reduced, farmer/rural living&#13;<br><br>standards have come into parity with nonfarm standards, food quality has&#13;<br><br>improved and environmental impact has been better controlled. Above all,&#13;<br><br>America enjoys food and fiber self-sufficiency which continues to&#13;<br><br>underlie its geo-political role as a leading world power."&#13;<br><br>All this advancement, though, has relied on a foundation of&#13;<br><br>reliable ag financing. "Prior to 1916, the availability of funding&#13;<br><br>to rural America was highly cyclical, with access to credit often drying&#13;<br><br>up during hard times," says Putnam. "Mortgage loans, which&#13;<br><br>were often used as production loans for machinery and inputs, were made&#13;<br><br>for terms of typically one to two years, with balloon maturities.&#13;<br><br>"This worked well during good times when farmers and lenders&#13;<br><br>would routinely renew these loans, but during adverse times, it put&#13;<br><br>farmers at great financial peril when lenders did not want to renew.&#13;<br><br>Farmers often were forced to make poor marketing decisions because their&#13;<br><br>loans matured before the product could be marketed in an orderly&#13;<br><br>manner."&#13;<br><br>The answer came in the form of what is now called Farm Credit (FC).<br><br>BUILDING THE SYSTEM&#13;<br><br>The Federal Farm Loan Act, enacted on July 17, 1916, answered&#13;<br><br>agricultural producers demand for credit to finance land and real estate&#13;<br><br>improvements which had increased in the late 19th and early 20th&#13;<br><br>centuries.&#13;<br><br>[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]&#13;<br><br>"The initial concept was to allow farmer ownership of their&#13;<br><br>own lender, which developed over time," says Putnam. "This&#13;<br><br>ultimately resulted in a different approach to farm lending that&#13;<br><br><img src="" width="287" /><br><br>recognized the unique realities of agricultural production and&#13;<br><br>marketing."&#13;<br><br>In February 1917, the U.S. Treasury invested $8,892,130 to complete&#13;<br><br>the required capitalization to start FC. "That's approximately&#13;<br><br>$70 million in today's dollars," explains Putnam.&#13;<br><br>"That was seed money to launch a brand new, audacious&#13;<br><br>venture—a nationwide system of banks and associations that would not&#13;<br><br>only lend money to America's farmers and ranchers, but eventually&#13;<br><br>enable them to become owners of FC. Much of this was repaid in the&#13;<br><br>1920s, but in 1933 at the depths of the Great Depression, the Federal&#13;<br><br>government once again invested additional capital. Between then and&#13;<br><br>1968, this government capital was fully repaid and FC became 100%&#13;<br><br>borrower-owned."&#13;<br><br>Putman continues, "Because the farm family has always been the&#13;<br><br>predominant business unit, outside equity capital has never worked well&#13;<br><br>in the farming sector.&#13;<br><br>"So the FC provided much of the necessary debt capital to&#13;<br><br>finance increased productivity and farm transition to the next&#13;<br><br>generation during the past century. This capital was procured from the&#13;<br><br>Wall Street money markets at competitive rates and made available to&#13;<br><br>credit-worthy farm, rural and cooperative borrowers in every hamlet&#13;<br><br>throughout our nation."&#13;<br><br>MANY SUPPORTERS&#13;<br><br>Putnam hesitates to acknowledge any one person responsible for the&#13;<br><br>Farm Credit System concept. "As a grass roots system built from the&#13;<br><br>ground up, there are probably hundreds, if not thousands of people&#13;<br><br>worthy of mention," he notes. "Besides, many of the folks&#13;<br><br>responsible for so much success in recent decades are still with us and&#13;<br><br>would be uncomfortable being singled out.&#13;<br><br>"I do count the following group of bipartisan U.S. Senators as&#13;<br><br>founding fathers leading to the passage of the Farm Loan Act of 1916:&#13;<br><br>Duncan Fletcher (FL), Herbert Myrick (MA), David Lubin (CA), Myron&#13;<br><br>Herrick (OH) and Leonard Robinson (NY).&#13;<br><br>"Henry Morgenthau, Jr. (NY) and William I. Myers (NY) deserve<br><br>great credit for the Farm Credit Act of 1933, rescuing American<br><br>agriculture from an incredibly desperate banking situation and putting<br><br>FC on the road to full cooperative ownership that has so greatly<br><br>benefited agriculture ever since."<br><br>Putnam credits four groups of stakeholders for the development of&#13;<br><br>FC over the years:&#13;<br><br>"First, the U.S. Senators and Representatives who recognized&#13;<br><br>the need and value for rural America to own its cooperative credit&#13;<br><br>system. Likewise, a cross section of U.S. Presidents of both parties&#13;<br><br>signed key legislation into law and oversaw the Farm Credit&#13;<br><br>Administration, including the administrations of Woodrow Wilson, Warren&#13;<br><br>Harding, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Ronald&#13;<br><br>Reagan.&#13;<br><br>"Second, the many FC employees who dedicated careers to&#13;<br><br>serving the credit and financial needs of farmers and ranchers. They not&#13;<br><br>only made the loans and provided services, but became trusted advisors&#13;<br><br>to their customers. Over time, FC employees developed the art of&#13;<br><br>responsible farm lending and took it to new levels. They embraced the&#13;<br><br>concept of cooperative ownership and gained satisfaction from working&#13;<br><br>for an institution with a strong mission to serve rural America.&#13;<br><br>[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]&#13;<br><br>"Third, the many farmer leaders who served tirelessly as&#13;<br><br>association and bank directors, taking valuable time away from their own&#13;<br><br>operations to serve their fellow borrowers in this capacity. While&#13;<br><br><object width="400" height="241"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="241"></embed></object><br><br>serving as director is an especially pleasant experience during good&#13;<br><br>times, hats off to the many directors who served at times of challenge&#13;<br><br>in U.S. agriculture or even within their own institution. FC is all&#13;<br><br>about being there for farmers in both the good and the bad times.&#13;<br><br>"And fourth, the millions of American farmers, ranchers,&#13;<br><br>commercial fishermen, cooperatives, rural utilities, rural residents and&#13;<br><br>farm-related businesses that have voted with their feet to finance with&#13;<br><br>FC institutions since they first opened for business in 1917. In the&#13;<br><br>final analysis, FC has persevered and succeeded because of the loyalty&#13;<br><br>of its members. And that will be just as true in the future."&#13;<br><br>BENEFITING TODAY'S FARMER&#13;<br><br>Today, FC serves agriculture and rural America in all 50 states and&#13;<br><br>Puerto Rico through a network of 76 local associations and for funding&#13;<br><br>four district banks. FC institutions are owned by their borrowers who&#13;<br><br>elect the Boards of Directors and share in patronage dividends accruing&#13;<br><br>from successful operations.&#13;<br><br>"Farm Credit's mission of accessing wholesale debt from&#13;<br><br>global money markets and retailing that debt to American agriculture&#13;<br><br>remains vital," says Putnam.&#13;<br><br>"The Farm Credit System is chartered and tasked to serve all&#13;<br><br>agriculture in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, all the time. That means&#13;<br><br>there is at least one agricultural lender available to American farmers&#13;<br><br>all of the time.&#13;<br><br>Putman continues, "Banks and investor-owned financial&#13;<br><br>institutions can rightly pick and choose which industries and which&#13;<br><br>geography they wish to serve. And they can adjust this over the course&#13;<br><br>of the economic cycle."&#13;<br><br>This leaves gaps in the availability of other lenders serving the&#13;<br><br>farm community. Gaps that are filled by FC.&#13;<br><br>Putnam reports, "FC has always had a special mission to assist&#13;<br><br>young and beginning farmers starting careers in agriculture, as well. In&#13;<br><br>the 1980s, Congress formalized this into the FC public policy mission.&#13;<br><br>As of December, 2014, FC had 181,736 loans to farmers 35 years or&#13;<br><br>younger, and 263,277 loans to farmers who have farmed not more than 10&#13;<br><br>years.&#13;<br><br>"However, loans are just one aspect," Putnam explains.&#13;<br><br>"Most associations provide training initiatives for young and&#13;<br><br>beginning farmers, offer support for family farm transition services and&#13;<br><br>provide other outreach to support new entrants pursuing careers in&#13;<br><br>farming. The System has recently broadened these initiatives to support&#13;<br><br>veterans seeking to establish farming enterprises.&#13;<br><br>"Certainly, the average size of farm businesses has greatly&#13;<br><br>increased over the past century, as family farms increased their scale&#13;<br><br>in order to maintain a standard of living and, often, in order to bring&#13;<br><br>in the next generation. What has not changed, though, is that there has&#13;<br><br>always been a wide range in the size of farm businesses within U.S.&#13;<br><br>agriculture.&#13;<br><br>"FC has always been chartered and expected to serve this full&#13;<br><br>range of farm business sizes comprising the fabric of American farming&#13;<br><br>and ranching. At the end of 2014, FC had 490,425 loans to small farmers&#13;<br><br>generating less than $250,000 in annual sales which represents 48.4% of&#13;<br><br>the total farm loans made by FC."&#13;<br><br>Putnam also notes that "as borrower-owners in their local Farm&#13;<br><br>Credit associations, farmers have become more informed and responsible&#13;<br><br>users of credit in their businesses over time, especially during the&#13;<br><br>past three decades. FC borrowers, in effect, are partners with their&#13;<br><br>local association through the lending relationship. Good loans, not over&#13;<br><br>borrowing, properly structuring and solid repayment by individual&#13;<br><br>borrower-owners lead to collective success of the Farm Credit&#13;<br><br>association."&#13;<br><br>In addition, as cooperative institutions, profits generated by Farm&#13;<br><br>Credit institutions accrue to the benefit of the borrower-owners, either&#13;<br><br>through increased capitalization and/ or patronage dividends. In 2014,&#13;<br><br>FC institutions distributed $1.19 billion in patronage to their&#13;<br><br>borrower-owners.&#13;<br><br>"This is a critical recycling of profits back into the future&#13;<br><br>success of agriculture," states Putnam. "With investor-owned&#13;<br><br>banking institutions, these profits would leave agriculture and. in all&#13;<br><br>likelihood, the rural community, going to the investor-owners of those&#13;<br><br>institutions."&#13;<br><br>MARKETING ACTIVITIES&#13;<br><br>FC marketing and advertising programs are key to making sure that&#13;<br><br>the broad range of stakeholders understand the benefits of the System.&#13;<br><br>"The Farm Credit Council's national communications team&#13;<br><br>is responsible for building Farm Credit's brand nationally, working&#13;<br><br>with and on behalf of the nearly 80 independent organizations within&#13;<br><br>Farm Credit," says Leigh Picchetti, Senior Vice President,&#13;<br><br>Communications.&#13;<br><br>"Located in Denver, CO, the program staff maintains&#13;<br><br>relationships with national media, develops content for key external&#13;<br><br>stakeholders and creates resources for FC communications professionals&#13;<br><br>to use in their local markets. The national communications team also&#13;<br><br>supports FC's national contributions program, which provides&#13;<br><br>financial support to non-profit and industry organizations.&#13;<br><br>Picchetti explains, "As a nationwide network of co-ops, the&#13;<br><br>process for developing collaborative communications plans starts with&#13;<br><br>research to identify shared goals, desired outcomes and strategic focus.&#13;<br><br>We then concentrate on positive storytelling, highlighting the&#13;<br><br>individuals, families and businesses we support and who are, in turn,&#13;<br><br>our owners. Finally, all our campaigns are designed to be personal,&#13;<br><br>positive and purpose driven.&#13;<br><br>[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]&#13;<br><br>"FC also uses a wide variety of agencies and other&#13;<br><br>professionals to execute our campaigns," Picchetti continues. These&#13;<br><br>include the firms FleishmanHillard, DStreet, Epsilon and even freelancer&#13;<br><br>contributors. All these agencies, and more, are contributing to tell the&#13;<br><br>Farm Credit story during its 100th anniversary."&#13;<br><br>A SPECIAL THANKS&#13;<br><br>Our sincere thanks to James Putnam II who was instrumental in&#13;<br><br>developing this article.&#13;<br><br>Putnam is a 41-year Farm Credit System veteran and currently serves&#13;<br><br>as Chief Business Officer for Farm Credit East, ACA, the association&#13;<br><br>serving seven Northeastern states.&#13;<br><br>In addition to his official duties, Putnam has a passion to better&#13;<br><br>understand and capture the history of the Farm Credit System. He started&#13;<br><br>to write about various aspects of Farm Credit System history at the time&#13;<br><br>of its 90th Anniversary and has continued to pursue his interest in this&#13;<br><br>fascinating American story of cooperation, self-help and success in&#13;<br><br>building a farmer-owned financial pipeline from the national money&#13;<br><br>markets to rural communities all across the U.S. AM&#13;<br><br>[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]&#13;<br><br>LOOKING AHEAD&#13;<br><br>Just like the farm and ranch businesses it serves, Farm Credit (FC)&#13;<br><br>has been a work in progress for 100 years. "As the businesses of&#13;<br><br>farming and banking have modernized and become more complex, FC has&#13;<br><br>needed to grow, adapt and innovate to stay relevant, efficient and&#13;<br><br>profitable," says Putnam.&#13;<br><br>"FC's story closely parallels that of American&#13;<br><br>agriculture over the past century. A story of hard work, continuous&#13;<br><br>learning, ingenuity and continuous drive to get better.&#13;<br><br>Putnam continues, "Today FC has a unique culture based on&#13;<br><br>strong credit discipline, operational safety and soundness, and a&#13;<br><br>continual drive to become more efficient. All grounded in cooperative&#13;<br><br>principles with the benefits of our Federal charter accruing back to our&#13;<br><br>borrower-owners.&#13;<br><br>"I fully expect that this culture will enable success for our&#13;<br><br>customer-owners and for their cooperative System for many years to&#13;<br><br>come."&#13;<br><br>CELEBRATION ACTIVITIES&#13;<br><br>According to Putnam, Farm Credit's (FC) centennial has offered&#13;<br><br>a time to pause and reflect on agriculture's past while keeping an&#13;<br><br>eye on what is next for the industry and rural America.&#13;<br><br>"This anniversary is very important for us," he says.&#13;<br><br>"Many of us grew up on farms or worked on a farm in the&#13;<br><br>summer. Many of us majored in agriculture at a Land Grant Colleges.&#13;<br><br>"All of us have a passion for serving farmers and ranchers. We&#13;<br><br>love what agriculture has accomplished and are proud to play a role in&#13;<br><br>helping today's generation succeed while bringing the next&#13;<br><br>generation of farmers into business.&#13;<br><br>In recognition of this milestone, FC is launching the "Farm&#13;<br><br>Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives" project searching to honor 100&#13;<br><br>visionaries from across the country for their role in defining the&#13;<br><br>future of agriculture and rural communities.&#13;<br><br>Among the top 100 honorees, ten exceptional leaders will receive a&#13;<br><br>$10,000 award to help further their contributions to thriving rural&#13;<br><br>communities and agriculture. These ten honorees and their guests will be&#13;<br><br>invited to Washington, D.C. to participate in a special FC recognition&#13;<br><br>event in 2016.&#13;<br><br>To apply or nominate an agricultural leader, visit&#13;<br><br> by December 18, 2015. Honorees will be announced&#13;<br><br>during National Agriculture Week, March 14-18, 2016.&#13;<br><br>Individual Farm Credit associations will also be conducting&#13;<br><br>centennial celebrations, as well.&#13;<br><br>by Mike Gustafson, Contributing Editor, Deere's Landing,&#13;<br><br>moc.oobay|retirwsug#moc.oobay|retirwsug&#13;<br><br><a href=''s100thanniversary!-a0435716179'>'s100thanniversary!-a0435716179</a>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

USDA's Direct (502) Rural Development Loan - 14 Jul 2016 01:47


[[html]]<img style="float:right;margin:10px;border:none;" src="" width="257" /><br><br>I'm just going to cover my experience through The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Direct Loan program itself and will not include my emotions through the whole first time homebuyer's experience. Not only was it a headache, but there was some mishaps I just don't feel like reliving (all smiles though). The program itself really tested my patience but was more than worth it in the end, and I would recommend it to any first time home buyer that meet the qualifications. Speaking of qualifications, there are only a few: meet income eligibility, decent credit score, proof of income, U.S. citizen or legal alien status with the government, home must be in rural community, and good referrals.<br><br>The USDA has two programs which provide aid to those seeking to purchase a home. Direct Loans: Loans offered to homebuyers directly from the Government; Guarantee Loans: USDA backing loans made through customary banking and lending institutions. I applied and received the Direct Loan which I will cover my trials and achievements in this article. If you would like to learn more about the Guarantee Loans you can visit their website: So, being a 28 year old divorced single mom still longing for the two-story home, garage, and white picket fence - I started the USDA Direct Loan journey.<br><br>I called my local service center (which was an hour away) and requested to be sent an application. The application itself was annoying, but painless: fill out paper work, provide copies of birth certificates/social security cards/and if applicable driver's license or other form of photo identification of everyone that will be residing in the home, proof of income, first time homebuyer's certificate if applicable and letters of good standing (i.e. landlord, parents if you're living with them, etc.). Mailed in my application (and faxed since I was so nervous), and twiddled my thumbs for 30 … 60 … 90 days. The 90 day timeframe was caused by my "local" service center handling multiple counties, lack of workers, and my filing at the height of the foreclosure crisis.<br><br><img src="" width="273" /><br><br>Finally, a letter in the mail with an interview date only two weeks away. When the day finally came, I dressed up in my Sunday best, plugged the address in my GPS, filled the Tahoe with overpriced gas and was merrily on my way. I finally made it into town, just for my GPS to get lost "make a legal U-turn, turn right, turn left, destination on right, destination on left" apparently the GPS was just as confused as I was. Made the call to the service center to get the correct directions, and was sitting in front of the caseworker's desk in no time. The caseworker explained the program to me - just reinterring the details that I (and I'm sure that you) know by heart from all my online research. Everything was going nicely until she told me my credit score - 565. What?!?!!? I went through the home buyer's program in my county and after clearing ALL my debt I was assured that my score would at least be 600. How devastating - to find out that your credit score is a 565 when you know for a fact that the program requires you to have at least a 650. Tears started to form in the corner of my eyes as she began going over the details of my credit report. I started to see the image of my son's smiling face running through our backyard begin to fade … and then she gave me my approved loan amount. Wait - What?!?! Approval letter - yes, due to my having cleared ALL my debt and not owing anyone anything I was still approved.<br><br>I wanted to scream and break into a thank you prayer in the middle of her office - but I didn't want to freak her out - so I just held my composure. She explained that I was approved for the highest possible loan amount for my county (which I thought there were no limits - but whatever - I was approved), my first payment will be due in July the following year (about 9 months away), the breakdown of my mortgage payments (which was cheaper than my rent), and that I was locked into a fixed low interest rate (the lowest at that time) - but their funds are depleted. What?!!? Apparently, I was approved after the fiscal year ended and they are awaiting approval from the government for funds. Timeframe given - maybe next month or next year. Wow - really didn't see that coming. I thanked her kindly for all her assistance, got back in the Tahoe, screamed and cried (I know, I know), and then called back all my missed calls and text messages (what did they say?? How much do you have??? When can we move in??). Needless to say it was the most joyous disappointing moment of my life (I still laugh at the thought).<br><br>So, in the meantime while I wait for the funding, I get a really great realtor; find that two story home (with two door garage - no white picket fence but that can come later) in a great neighborhood only five minutes from the city, and plenty of room for my son and his friends to play. My approval letter gave me a 30day window to get certain documents (all handled by my much beloved realtor) into the office regarding my pending home - although the funds were not available. Now let me speak of the monetary part she didn't clue me in on. During the interview she did mention that I will have to pay for a home inspection but there will be no other funds coming out of my pocket. Great - so why do I have to pay for a home inspection, wood destroying organism inspection, appraisal, and earnest deposit? Not that I mind, through my first time home buyer's program I was advised to save for these types of things - but don't look me in my face and swear up and down the only thing I would have to pay for is the home inspection. And by the way, all this has come out my pocket and still no word regarding when the funds will be coming and we're almost at the New Year. Like I said, the USDA was really testing my patience.<br><br>A few days after I bring in the New Year with my little one, I get an email headed USDA FUNDS from my caseworker. The funding was approved and the closing was in process. A week later I'm in the title agency conference room (no representative from the USDA there), eating chocolate chip cookies and signing document on top of document. At the end I'm given my keys, garage opener and … . a check?? Yes, apparently my earnest deposit was rolled into my loan and therefore refundable by the USDA. And if the sellers weren't going to pay the closing costs (which they did) that would have been rolled into the loan as well, meaning I wouldn't have to go in my pocket to cover closing costs. Only down side is that my mortgage was due next month - not in July as my approval letter said. Money and a new home - on the same day?? I can get over the new due date.<br><br>I would have to say there were a lot of behind the scenes work that went on directly between my realtor and caseworker - so I strongly urge anyone buying a home for the first time to team up with a realtor. I cannot give my realtor enough praise - she walked me every step of the way and still keeps in touch (even upgraded my home warranty package out her commission). Is this program time consuming - yes. Will you feel like your application was lost in the shuffle - yes. Will you have to come out of your pocket - yes. Is it worth it - yes! It's a great feeling to play slide down the stairs in MY home with my 5 year old. Keep patience and your home goal in mind - and you'll be sliding down your stairs too!!<br><br><a href=''></a><br><br>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

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