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Small Plant News: Rural Development Stands Ready to Assist Small Meat and Poultry Plants with Loans

[Editor's note: a version of this article was originally published in the Food Safety and Inspection Service's Small Plant News.  This post covers Rural Development loan programs available to small plants; an upcoming post will cover Rural Development grant programs.]

If you are a small packinghouse or processor and you want to expand, upgrade, or update your facility, assistance is available. As covered in the Volume 1, Number 3 issue of Small Plant News, USDA’s Rural Development is ready to offer assistance in the form of loans and grants, which this two-part series will examine.

While Rural Development does not offer a specific program for these activities, a number of loan guarantee and grant programs administered by this Agency may be applicable to small and very small meat and poultry processors looking to develop or expand their business. Rural Development loan guarantees can be used by individuals, businesses, or cooperatives for acquisition, conversion, enlargement, repair, modernization, development, purchase of equipment, leasehold improvements, machinery, supplies, or inventory.

Rural Development business assistance is available to applicants in eligible rural areas. For information about eligible rural areas, contact your Rural Development State office or visit the Agency’s Income and Property Eligibility Web site at

Rural Development’s primary lending program is the Business and Industry (B&I) Loan Guarantee program. The purpose of the B&I program is to improve, develop, or finance business, industry, and employment and improve the economic and environmental climate in rural communities. A borrower may be a cooperative organization, corporation, partnership, or other legal entity organized and operated on a profit or nonprofit basis; an Indian tribe on a Federal or State reservation or other federally recognized tribal group; a public body; or an individual.

Eligible B&I guaranteed lenders include any Federal-or State-chartered bank, farm credit bank, other farm credit system institution with direct lending authority, banks for cooperatives, savings and loan associations, mortgage companies that are part of a bank-holding company, credit unions, or insurance companies regulated by the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation. As applicable, these entities must be subject to credit examination and supervision by either an agency of the United States or a State, either the National Credit Union Administration or a State agency, or are regulated by a State or national insurance regulatory agency. Other lenders that the Agency determines have the legal authority to operate a lending program and sufficient lending expertise and financial strength to operate a successful lending program can be eligible. All eligible lenders must have adequate experience and expertise to make, secure, service, and collect B&I loans.

Loan purposes may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • business and industrial acquisitions when the loan will keep the business from closing, prevent the loss of employment opportunities, or provide expanded job opportunities;
  • business conversion, enlargement, repair, modernization, or development;
  • the purchase and development of land, easements, rights-of-way, buildings, or facilities; or
  • the purchase of equipment, leasehold improvements, machinery, supplies, or inventory.

For additional information on loan amounts, terms, etc., visit the Rural Development Business Programs Web site at or call (202) 690-4730.

We’ll cover the various grant programs that Rural Development offers in the next issue of Small Plant News.

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