COLUMBUS, Ohio — Farmers are now able to receive expanded financing assistance through the state's Ag-LINK program.
“This is one of the really unique pieces of tools in the farmer’s financial toolbox,” agriculture expert Andy Vance said. “The treasurer’s office basically partners with local banks either by depositing money with the bank or by buying securities or investments from the bank to offset the interest rate for a farmer approved to finance through the program. That could reduce a farmer’s interest rate by up to three percentage points, which is huge.”
While the program was instituted more than 30 years ago, farmers can now apply year-round. Previously, the program operated with a shorter application period at the beginning of the year.
The Ohio Treasurer’s office oversees the program.
“We wanted to make it more applicable for these rising costs,” Treasurer Robert Sprague said. “So we increased the loan caps from $150,000 to $500,000 so [farmers] can loan of up to half a million dollars. We’ve gone to a year-round application period, which we heard from our livestock farmers, is very important that they have access to capital year-round. And we’ve also included for the first time agribusinesses and cooperatives in the agricultural community.
“And as a result, our loan volume has quadrupled. Our loan amounts have quadrupled over the last six months, so we know that the uptake has been incredible for the farm community here in the state of Ohio.”
Farmers can use the program to finance feed, seed, fertilizer, equipment, fuel and other items. The program does not include land purchases.
According to the treasurer’s office, eligible farm operators and agribusinesses must be organized for profit, have headquarters and 51% of operations maintained in Ohio, must use the loan only for agricultural purposes, and must comply with all program and financial institution regulations.
“This program offers an interest rate reduction of up to three percentage points,” Vance said. “This program gives farmers some huge flexibility in their financing and maybe takes away some of that interest rate risk.”