Low-interest loan program supports agriculture best management practices
Harrisburg, PA - Treasurer Stacy Garrity, Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding, Rep. Rich Irvin, and the chairs of the Senate and House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committees today announced the relaunch of the Agriculture Linked (Agri-Link) Investment Program. The program offers low-interest loans to Pennsylvania agriculture operations implementing best management practices (BMPs).
They were joined in the announcement by representatives of the agricultural community and the four chairs of the legislative committees with oversight of agricultural issues.
“Giving our farmers access to these affordable loans once again will help sustain agriculture operations in every corner of the Commonwealth. Agriculture is one of the biggest drivers of our state’s economy, and this support will allow farmers to implement new and innovative best practices.”
Pennsylvania State Treasurer, Stacy Garrity
“How Pennsylvanians farm today has a powerful impact on our ability to feed a growing population tomorrow. Measures to improve soil and water and keep our streams clean and our farms growing come at a substantial cost to farmers. We are pleased to subsidize reduced interest rates through Agri-Link and the other PA Farm Bill investments that support the future vitality of our industry and our economy.”
Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding
“Our farmers work hard to feed our nation, and they do so while navigating many complex regulations and mandates. I am happy to see Agri-Link relaunched to help provide financial assistance to those farmers who want to follow established best management practices but lack the funds for implementation.”
Representative Rich Irvin, author of the bill that re-established the program
“PennAg members and agriculture across the Commonwealth are pleased to see the resurrection of the Agri-Link program. Treasurer Garrity has been on the job less than a year and has quickly proven her commitment to Pennsylvania agriculture. I also applaud Rep. Irvin, the General Assembly, and the Department of Agriculture for their hard work in bringing back Agri-Link.”
Christian Herr, Executive Vice President of PennAg Industries Association
“Programs that help farmers finance conservation improvements enable us to do even more to protect the land, local waterways and other natural resources. Farmers are leaders in environmental stewardship and want to build upon our efforts. But few farms have the resources available to pay for these initiatives on their own. Public investments in farm conservation play a crucial role in helping farmers make improvements that benefit both our farms and our communities.”
Rick Ebert, President of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau
“Recognizing the important role that Pennsylvania’s farming community – as the Commonwealth’s top industry – plays in our state and local economies, we came together in a bipartisan manner to pass the Pennsylvania Farm Bill (Act 39 of 2019). The Agri-Link Program provides targeted financial support for efforts to improve or expand best management practices (BMPs) on farms across the state. These low-interest loans provide a short-term boost to these farms that hopefully will result in long term-benefits for agriculture in Pennsylvania and our state’s economic future.”
Senator Elder Vogel, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee
“Pennsylvania farmers care about the environment. Low-interest loans will help provide farmers much needed assistance to implement best management practices, which benefits all of us. I’m very grateful to Treasury for recognizing the value of Agri-Link and bringing it back to the Commonwealth. It's a tremendous resource for our farmers.”
Senator Judy Schwank, Democratic Chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee
“I am pleased Pennsylvania farmers will soon have this important tool available to help them implement their farm conservation management plans. These conservation measures are essential, yet they represent a significant cost to our farmers. Agri-Link loans will provide farmers the low-interest funding they need.”
Representative Dan Moul, Chairman of the Pennsylvania House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee
“The re-launch of the Agri-Link program is excellent news for thousands of Pennsylvania’s small farmers and producers who are committed to utilizing best practices to keep our families fed. I was proud to support improvements to this program in the historic 2019 PA Farm Bill because our agricultural operations often operate on slim margins, making investments in improvements more difficult. By relieving the burden of the interest from private loans to implement best practices, Agri-Link is critical to ensure Pennsylvania’s agricultural producers continue to enhance their operations and provide the highest-quality food and products.”
Representative Eddie Day Pashinski, Democratic Chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee
Agri-Link is open to farmers in all 67 counties and offers low-interest loans up to $250,000 with terms no longer than 12 years. More information is available on the Agri-Link page on the Department of Agriculture’s website.
The agriculture industry directly employs more than 300,000 Pennsylvanians and supports nearly 300,000 other jobs statewide. Agriculture operations across the state have a total economic impact of $132.5 billion.
A previous version of Agri-Link was discontinued more than a decade ago. The program was re-established by Act 37 of 2019, and allows the State Conservation Commission (SCC) at the Department of Agriculture to subsidize qualifying loans. The subsidy is funded by an annual appropriation from the General Assembly for payments to offset interest rates. The current appropriation is $500,000. Treasury will pay the lending institution the full value of the qualifying Agri-Link loan. The borrower’s interest rate is reduced by a subsidy provided by the SCC. Borrowers pay back principal and interest to their lenders, and Treasury is paid principal and interest every six months over the life of the loan by the depository institution.
Those interested in applying for the program can do so through their local lending institution or a Farm Credit Service institution. County conservation districts and the SCC review applicants’ projects to determine whether they meet Act 37 criteria. To be eligible, borrowers must have BMP projects included in an approved nutrient management, manure management, agricultural erosion and sedimentation, or other SCC-approved federal or state conservation plans.