Tom Grzadzieleski Jr. is taking the plunge. The 26-year-old from Drayton, N.D., is a beginning farmer and is making use of the USDA Farm Service Agency Beginning Farmer Loan Program to buy land.
In 2009, after several years of working on his family's farm in the summer and working off the farm in the winter, Grzadzieleski rented 380 acres and grew sugarbeets and wheat. In 2010, he rented 770 acres and grew sugarbeets, wheat and soy beans. He recently purchased 76 acres with the financing from the Farm Service Agency.
"I couldn't have bought land if it wasn't for the beginning farmer program," Grzadzieleski says He was able to borrow the principal and the downpayment and is currently paying 1.5% interest.
"It a great program for someone just starting out," he says.
According to FSA, a beginning farmer is an individual or entity who (1) has not operated a farm for more than 10 years; (2) meets the loan eligibility requirements of the program to which he/she is applying; (3) substantially participates in the operation; and, (4) for farm ownership purposes, does not own a farm greater than 30% of the median size farm in the county. All applicants for direct farm ownership loans must have participated in the business operation of a farm for at least three years. If the applicant is an entity, all members must be related by blood or marriage, and all members in a corporation must be eligible beginning farmers.
"People used to think of FSA as the lender of last resort," says Gail Gullickson, a South Dakota FSA staff member. "We are very fortunate to be the lender of first opportunity for many beginning farmers and ranchers."
For information on the beginning farm loan program, see your local FSA office.