Small businesses have had it tough the past few years, and equine operations are no exception. In the past, loans from your local lender were relatively easy to obtain and could be used to purchase farms, operate your business or even make capital improvements. In today’s economy, those loans are harder to get. The good news is there are still many options available to you, as an equine operation, that can help finance your business. Consider these options:
- MidAtlantic Farm Credit’s StartRight Program for young, beginning and small farmers – Contact your local Farm Credit office for more information or visit www.farmcreditequine.com.
- Maryland Department of Agriculture Special Projects and Tributary Strategies - Visit the MD Department of Ag Conservation website (http://www.mda.state.md.us/resource_conservation/index.php) for a list of possible grants available for equine related conservation projects.
- Maryland Departments of Agriculture and Environment Low Interest Loans for Agricultural Conservation (also known as LILAC) – LILAC eligible loans offer a significant reduction in your interest rate for eligible purchases of certain types of equipment and installation of approved best management practices on agricultural land that help protect water quality. Contact your local Soil Conservation office for assistance with the application and to have your project referred to Maryland Department of Agriculture and Maryland Department of Environment.
- US Small Business Administration or SBA – The SBA provides loans to small businesses for startup and growth. For more information visit their website at www.sba.gov.
- Maryland Agricultural & Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation or MARBIDCO – MARBIDCO offers low-interest loans to most agricultural producers. These loans are offered for the purchase of land and equipment. The loan programs are available to most farmers including equine. Also, MARBICO will work in conjunction with your lender to offer a combined lending package. Visit their website at www.marbidco.org for more information.
As you research the above options, remember to visit your local state, and federal, department of agriculture websites for additional information on subsidies, grants and low interest loans. In most cases, horse owners are not considered agricultural producers and are not eligible for certain state and federal programs. For example, FSA guarantee loans and direct loans are restricted to production agriculture. However, there may be rare instances that a second enterprise on the farm would be considered production agriculture such as cash grain and change the qualification status.
Take the time to document the diversification of your operation. When completing the research for applicable loans, grants, and subsidies, your documentation of the operation could aid in the qualification process. Also, periodically revisit local state and federal websites for possible changes in requirements for aid and additional projects offered. Lastly, don’t forget to contact your farm lender with any questions concerning your borrowing needs.