GreenStone Farm Credit Services has expanded their support for young, small, and beginning farmers – a refreshed program named CultivateGrowth.
CultivateGrowth provides the foundation for farmers to flourish in their agricultural aspirations. Created to support the diversity of modern agriculture, the program provides financing, education, and funding to serve the need of this valuable community.
By talking to customers, colleagues, and prospects, GreenStone found people need more support and better connections. As a result, we’ve designed this program specifically to meet those needs. Helping farmers obtain and maintain relevant resources is our priority, and GreenStone is doing it in a variety of ways.
An exciting part of CultivateGrowth is a new loan option specifically designed for young, beginning, and small farmers. CultivateGrowth’s Emerging Loans have more relaxed financing standards, along with the opportunity to earn an even lower rate, 0.50% lower, once the CultivateGrowth Emerging Loan Education is completed. Customers who may not have previously been able to qualify will now have an option to obtain financing for their dreams.
Along with the Emerging Loans, GreenStone continues to partner with USDA to support customers with FSA guarantees on their young, beginning and small farmer loans. With the growing diversity of agriculture, we’re looking forward to seeing this additional financing option complement a century of support for farmers.
Knowing agriculture is rapidly changing, GreenStone has prioritized its support by providing our customers with learning opportunities and resources. We’ve partnered with many organizations to ensure a diverse set of educational opportunities to serve each member’s needs.
Beyond the opportunities, those members in the CultivateGrowth Emerging Loan program also have the chance to earn a reduced interest rate on their Emerging Loans after completing a slate of educational activities. Not only do these farmers - these businesspeople - benefit from the education, but they also pay less.
Regardless of the type of loan, all CultivateGrowth customers can take advantage of financial training, conferences, workshops, consultants, tax and accounting services, and more.
To help provide producers with many of the educational opportunities and support necessary for success, GreenStone once again is committing up to $40,000 annually to young, beginning, and small farmers through CultivateGrowth Grants. Grants are available for customers ($1000/year) and non-customers ($500/year) for reimbursement of many of the activities and resources that will help them learn and grow their business – including educational opportunities.
This money can be used for educational programs and events, business-related GreenStone services like accounting and tax services, and resources such as business and farm consultants.
In reaching toward the goal to prepare the next generation of industry leaders for success, GreenStone is working to connect producers through the CultivateGrowth Mentorship.
Through this partnership, new and experienced farmers of similar interests and farming practices are paired to help share industry knowledge, pass along on-farm lessons, and help equip them for the challenges of the agricultural industry.
The 18-month program not only facilitates information sharing, but it creates a network of support and challenges both the mentee and mentors’ thought process, challenging them to consider alternatives that better their business. The next class of mentee and mentor pairs will kick off this fall, and applications will be available in the summer of 2022.
Young, beginning, and small farmers each have a standard to qualify, and customers can meet one metric that aligns with the federal definitions: young farmers are those under 35 years of age, beginning farmers have less than 10 years of farming experience, and small farmers experience less than $250,000 gross farm income per year.
GreenStone wants to be with farmers every step of the way, and we want to make sure they know we’re here for them in the beginning, middle, and end of their agricultural careers. With the expanded CultivateGrowth program, we hope we’re making it easier to start the conversation, and we are ready to partner every step of the way.
As the number one rural lender in Michigan and Wisconsin, with a mission of providing the support to young, beginning and small farmers, it’s important to us that people are aware of the resources available – including helping with the first steps toward realizing your goals.
For more information, visit greenstonefcs.com.
*Written for the Michigan Farm News Dollars and Sense Column