FAQ: Can you give me some information about the Farm Service Agency's Youth Loan Program? I've heard FSA can provide loans to help students who want to start FFA or 4-H projects.
Answer: Provided by Beth Grabau, public relations and outreach specialist with the state office of USDA's Farm Service Agency in Des Moines.
For parents, teachers and students alike, the end of the Iowa State Fair means it's time to start another school year. New clothes, school supplies, class registration, and for parents of youth involved in FFA and 4-H, you add fair and livestock projects to the list of items required for the upcoming school year.
Looking back at the 2011 county fair season this past July and August, and the 2011 Iowa State Fair, youth who entered their projects in the shows and events gained knowledge, maturity and life skills from the experience. It's an opportunity for hard-working youth to exhibit an impressive array of livestock, cooking, art, woodworking, ag mechanics and numerous other types of projects. Also, competing in livestock judging, clothing design, public speaking and equestrian events, just to name a few, are a fun and important learning experience.
Fair season is one in which months, weeks, days and hours of preparation culminate in excitement and anticipation as everyone has their eye on a blue ribbon. Although certainly about healthy competition, the fair and show season is also about responsibility, planning, good sportsmanship and camaraderie.
Teaching life skills, financial management, accountability
As parents, teachers, 4-H leaders and FFA advisors, you've worked hard to instill in young minds the importance of record-keeping, financial management, accountability and making good business decisions too. FSA, through our youth loan program, would like to add business planning and a good credit history to that already impressive skill set.
In this day and age, one can't underestimate the value of good credit. FSA's youth loan program is designed to provide up to $5,000 in start-up funds to establish, expand and operate income-producing projects of modest size to youth between the ages of 10 and 20 who reside in a community with a population of 50,000 people or fewer.
As an added benefit, youth who successfully fulfill the terms of their loan obligations also establish an excellent credit history—something most people spend a lifetime trying to build and maintain.
Many success stories are the result of FSA youth loans
The youth loan success stories are endless across the U.S. and right here in Iowa. Young farmers and ranchers nationwide are using the youth loan program to help expand projects, herds and operations to the extent that these endeavors provide financial support for college tuition and economic security for future entrepreneurial ventures.
As parents and teachers you've done your part to teach the concepts of respect, responsibility and resourcefulness. FSA can add "creditworthy" and "financially independent" to the list of qualities used to describe America's next generation of agricultural leaders.
On behalf of the Iowa Farm Service Agency, we say "Best of Luck" to all the exhibitors who will participate in the Iowa State Fair next year in Des Moines, and all the county fairs, livestock shows and contests involving youth projects throughout the coming year. The achievements of Iowa's youth are so very important.
For more information about the FSA Youth Loan Program or any USDA farm programs, contact your local FSA office. Or visit FSA online at www.fsa.usda.gov.