Day 5 #RideMI Motorcycle Tour: Peters Tours Oceana County Farm

Peters Highlights Benefits of Farm Service Agency’s Loan Program for Small Farms

HART, MI – On the fifth and final day of his #RideMI Motorcycle Tour, U.S. Senator Gary Peters stopped in Oceana County to visit Herrygers Farms to highlight his work ensuring Michigan small farmers have access to the capital needed to start or grow their agricultural businesses. Peters has called for strong funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Farm Service Agency (FSA)’s loan program that helps family farmers launch or expand their businesses.

“Michigan’s agriculture industry is a vital part of our economy, employing roughly one out of every four workers and growing crops as diverse as corn, peaches, cherries and asparagus,” said Senator Peters. “I am committed to ensuring that Michigan family farmers have access to the critical capital they need, including through the FSA’s farm loan programs, so they can start new farms or strengthen their businesses.”

FSA provides direct loans and loan guarantees to help family farmers start and maintain viable farming operations. FSA loans aim to help small farms that cannot otherwise obtain access to capital, including beginning farmers, women and minorities, and other disadvantaged borrowers.

Gerrit Herrygers, who helped host Senator Peters’ visit to Herrygers Farms, recently used the FSA’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Loan program to help purchase 70 acres of farmland to grow asparagus. The program finances up to 50 percent of the purchase, with the rest financed through an agricultural lender.

“It was great to welcome Senator Peters to Oceana County and show him how agriculture is a big part of our culture and economy,” said Gerrit Herrygers. “Thanks to the FSA loan program, I was able to use loans to purchase land in Oceana County and start my own asparagus farming operation. The FSA loan program provides critical help for farmers like me, and I appreciate Senator Peters’ support for this important resource.”

FSA’s loan programs include operating loans, which fund expenses such as livestock, equipment and seed, and ownership loans that help farmers develop land. Recent years have seen increased demand for FSA’s loan programs. In June 2016, hundreds of farmers whose loans had already been approved could not receive the funds due to a shortfall in funding for FSA operating loans. As a result, Congress was forced to pass an emergency appropriation in December 2016 to address the shortfall. In May, Peters led a bipartisan group of 28 Senators in a letter to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture urging them to support robust funding for FSA loan programs.