This post is part of a Microloan Success feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Tuesday and Thursday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
Beginning farmer Andy Getting was doing some research on the Internet when he came across information on USDA’s Microloan program. The program allows beginning, small and mid-sized farmers to access up to $35,000 in loans using a simplified application process, and with up to seven years to repay.
Getting, an Iowa farmer, grows irrigated corn, soybeans and strawberries. He is a part-owner with his parents, Don and Mary Getting, who are starting their 30th farming season.
The Gettings started growing strawberries in 1983 on one acre. Next year, they will pick 17 acres of June-bearing strawberries. Their customers have the option of picking their own berries or they can buy pre-picked berries at the market, which also sells fresh strawberry shakes, muffins, bread and many other strawberry-flavored baked goods made by Getting’s grandmother. During the summer months, the market employs 15 to 30 people.
Getting’s Microloan experience started with his interest in growing day-neutral strawberries that produce continually all summer and into the fall. He decided that the best option would be to plant the strawberries in a high tunnel. Getting’s idea led him to the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) website where he explored programs for small and beginning farmers. He came across information on the Microloan program and contacted his local FSA office to see if he qualified. Shortly after he completed the application last spring, he was informed that his loan was approved.
Getting used his Microloan to purchase a high tunnel and install drip irrigation. He planted strawberries in the high tunnel during late summer and picked berries up until the first freeze. He said he plans to plant strawberries as soon as the snow melts. Getting said he hopes that growing strawberries in a controlled environment will enable him to increase production. He wants to have a crop ready for harvest before their normal June season and also extend his growing season into early fall.
Getting is hopeful that his high tunnel project will yield great returns on his investment and allow him to keep up with the demand for his product.
“My [FSA] loan officer was wonderful to work with and very knowledgeable,” said Getting. “Without question, I would use the Microloan program again for another project. I had a very positive experience.”
USDA is focused on increasing opportunities for farmers and ranchers and has made several modifications to farm loan programs including making Microloans to beginning farmers and veterans exempt from direct loan term limits.
The Getting family also participates in other farm programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
USDA employees are proud to see the progress that farmers and ranchers are making in their daily operations with the help of the Microloan program. To date, USDA has issued more than 4,900 microloans totaling $97 million. Visit the FSA website to learn more about our farm loan programs.