Developed to address all market segments of agriculture, AgConnect was crafted to meet the needs of farmers who market their agricultural products through local and regional food systems (local food farmers).

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The AgConnect Program was launched in 2016 to provide support and financing options for Emerging Market producers. AgConnect is a financing and support program developed to expand business opportunities for emerging/niche agribusinesses, designed specifically to address the retail, value-added ag businesses that offer new market avenues and products, and alternative supply chains.

As a result of consumer demand for locally and sustainably produced foods, new agribusiness channels have emerged, creating a diversity of value-added agricultural niche markets through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmers markets, food hubs, food distribution networks, and other alternative, locally based economic models of agriculture and food distribution.

QUALIFICATIONS

To qualify as an Emerging Market producer or aggregator, customers are typically:

  • A farmer or rancher selling at least 20% of food products direct to consumers
  • Approximately 5 to 80 acres
  • A niche farmer/rancher producing a specialty crop or livestock with value added aspects
  • Provides an alternative income source for new entry farmers and farm entrepreneurs

PROGRAM FEATURES

FINANCING SUPPORT: A team of specially trained loan officers is available throughout the Association’s territory to assist agribusiness borrowers with financing and leasing options, crop insurance, and business plan support.

FEE REDUCTIONS: AgConnect also offers competitive rates with possible loan fee reductions, and features special benefits that help specialty niche and emerging market farmers and ranchers, such as:

  • Less-restrictive underwriting standards
  • Reduced or waived fees
  • Educational benefits
  • Reduced interest rates

EXTENDED UNDERWRITING: The program also includes an Exception lending program for those emerging market customers don’t qualify under our standard underwriting conditions, along with related educational and technological stipends to help new and emerging customers get their business off the ground.

FINANCING OPTIONS

AgConnect can provide financing for a broad spectrum of business needs — from mortgage and operating financing to livestock, equipment, and new venture support.

  • Real estate purchases
  • Operating expenses
  • Livestock and equipment purchases
  • Equipment, vehicles and facility leases
  • Refinancing existing debt
  • Starting new ventures in agriculture
  • Interest-only operating loans to support seed capital for promising new ventures, or unique market opportunities

CRITERIA

A loan must meet all of the following criteria to be eligible for the AgConnect Program:

  • The borrower/applicant must meet the criteria for, or qualify as, an Emerging Market borrower – defined as a new emerging market commodity or emerging market customer/diverse criteria.?

    Emerging Market farmers and ranchers are defined as retail, value-added ag businesses that offer new market avenues and products, and alternative supply chains

    A small to medium local food producer or aggregator/food hub (farm-related service) selling products via a shortened supply chain with value-added merchandising products to targeted buyers.

    Characteristics including but not limited to:

    • A farmer or rancher selling at least 25% of food product sales direct to consumers (i.e. farmers markets, CSA, or roadside stand and or through local food coop/food hubs; restaurants, or institutions)
    • Typically 5 to 80 acres (not exclusive)
    • A niche farmer/rancher producing a specialty crop or livestock with value added aspects
    • Provides an alternative income source for new entry farmers/farm entrepreneurs
  • Must be identified as a bona fide farmer/rancher, a processing or marketing operation “directly related” to the operations of a bona fide farmer (provided some portion of throughput is provided by the farmer), or a business furnishing farm-related services
  • A processor, marketer, or farm-related service operator can be functionally similar to an eligible business (see above) and may receive financing as a similar entity
    Loan amount is limited to $1 million or less.
  • Approvals should either be a new loan to a new applicant, a new transaction to an existing borrower, or a new or expansion loan to emerging market customer.

MAP

REGIONAL CONTACTS

Midwest
Heather Gibson, Heartland
Becky Steckel, Mountain Plains
Christine Taylor, Intermountain
West
Nicole Banks, Central CA
Ruth McClure, Northern CA
Allison Paap, Southern CA