Photos by: Steve Ritter, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
Tanner King spends Mondays at the Caldwell Livestock Auction in Idaho, decked out in a dark blue hoody sweatshirt and black cowboy hat, blending in with the other bidders. The young rancher might look as though he’s new to shaving but at buying cattle he’s an old hand.
The young rancher wants to build up his herd, buying 500-weight cattle and then selling them in the fall for profit.
“Right now I have 25 acres that’s pasture under pivot and I lease another 20 acres in Melba under pivot for pasture. I run five-weight calves through the grass season and try to get them up to 850 and sell them at the end of the year,” said King.
He stumbled onto a good thing last spring, using Farm Service Agency (FSA) Recovery Act money for low interest loans. He says it’s an economic leg-up in these hard times that’s allowing him to chase the American dream. One day he says he wants to buy a ranch and start a livestock company of his own.
The United States Department of Agriculture through FSA issued $175 million to states to target young farmers and ranchers like King. “It’s helped a number of beginning farmers that have not been able to get loans because of their lack of production history,” said Mike Anderson, FSA farm loan officer with the Canyon County FSA. “We are here to give those guys an opportunity.”
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was designed to preserve or create millions of jobs throughout the country and these loans help ensure that recipients remain financially viable and local agri-businesses benefit from direct purchases.
“It’s been a god-send because there’s no way I would have had the resources right now to start out,” said King. “There’s no way I could have gotten started without the FSA. This is my second loan and I paid off my first. The terms were real easy and it wasn’t stressful for me at all. They (FSA) did real good by me”.
“He is able to buy some livestock and act on a plan that he has put together, which wouldn’t have worked if he had went to [a commercial] bank,” said Anderson.