Community Agriculture Alliance: Micro loan program provides direct support for local ag
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Community Agriculture Alliance has been working to promote and support local agriculture in the Yampa Valley since 1999. As the community continues to grow and change, the scenic working landscapes provided by agriculture remain consistent.
Iconic images of grazing cattle or bales of hay are not just for photographs, but if we value agriculture, then we must support our local farmers and ranchers. Programs to support local ag producers remain a critical part of the alliance’s mission as a nonprofit organization. Launched in 2019, the alliance developed a micro loan program focused on providing direct financial support for local agriculture. The program was funded by an initial donor with a $10,000 gift to begin the revolving loan fund.
Over the past few years, more donors have contributed to the fund and expanded the impact. To date, the alliance has awarded five loans that include funding for fencing for rotational cattle grazing, season extension for vegetable production and the building of a new greenhouse.
A committee of the alliance’s board members will accept and review applications with a goal of providing short-term, micro loans for local ag producers. Loan terms and amounts will be based on specific project details. Basic information and eligibility are as follows:
• The applicant must be an existing agriculture business or operation.
• The applicant must be 18 years old or have an adult co-signer.
• The applicant must adhere to the alliance’s anti-discrimination policy and be a current member of the alliance.
• Loans cannot be used for general operating, land purchases or leases; applications should focus on specific needs or a project.
• Loans are small — under $10,000 — and short-term — three months to two years — with an interest rate of 2.5%.
• Repayment of loans will go back into the micro loan fund.
Current micro loan applications are being accepted through Dec. 15. Some project ideas, beyond food production, for ag producers to consider include:
• A solar pump for livestock watering.
• Seed cover crops for rangeland or erosion control.
• Planting trees for water control, wind or animal habitat.
• A new or upgraded gate on an existing head gate for improved water control.
• Fencing or electric fence for cross fencing.
• New spray nozzles or boom for better application and reduced drift.
If you are interested in learning more about this program, call Michele Meyer at 970-879-4370 or email email@example.com. Loan application forms are available online at CommunityAgAlliance.org.
If you would like to make an investment in local agriculture, this program is a unique way to directly impact local producers. You can donate on the alliance’s website, using the donate button on the homepage and simply note you would like the contribution to go to the micro loan fund.
And next time you drive past a scenic field of hay or cattle, be sure to thank a local farmer or rancher for their hard work, dedication and commitment to agriculture in the Yampa Valley.
Michele Meyer is executive director of the Community Agriculture Alliance.
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