SKOWHEGAN — The Farm Service Agency recently announced a rule that expands loan opportunities for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, while also establishing the new Land Contract Guarantee Program.

The rule provides additional flexibility, letting loan officers consider prior farming experience, including on-the-job training and formal education, when determining eligibility for FSA for farm operating and ownership loans. The program is designed to encourage farmers and ranchers to sell property to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers through seller financing.

The change in eligibility increases access for farmers and ranchers to FSA loans and credit assistance. The rule enables landowners to sell their farmland to the next generation on a contract for deed with a 90 percent guarantee against losses to the seller. Alternatively, the agency can provide a guarantee of three years’ amortized loan installments, plus payment of real estate taxes and hazard insurance premiums for the same three-year period.

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