This week on the SFT website, Julianne Mesaric shares a project that is helping teens grow vegetables on an urban farm. But what about those who live in rural areas?

The United State’s Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Youth Loans are available to young people between the ages of 10 and 20 to support agriculture-related projects generating an income. The loans can be used to finance a range of different projects and can help with equipment costs – such as buying seeds, livestock and supplies – repairing tools or general operating costs.

To qualify for a loan of up to $5,000, the project must be small and educational and it should be initiated, developed and carried out by rural youths. The project must be supervised, so applicants must also be part of an organisation such as the Future Farmers of America, or participating in a 4-H club – a global network of youth organisations. Applicants must also reside in a rural area, city or town with a population of 50,000 people or less.

Other requirements are that the project be planned and operated with the assistance of an advisor from the supervising organisation. It must also produce sufficient income to repay the loan and provide the youth with practical business and educational experience in agriculture-related skills.

To apply, you need to submit completed plans and budgets signed by both the project advisor and a parent or guardian. The interest rate of the loan is determined periodically and will not change after the loan is made. A repayment schedule will also take into consideration the type of project: for example, if it involves raising livestock or crops, the loan is paid when the animals or produce are likely to be sold.

Find out more by visiting your local USDA Service Center, which will be listed on the Farm Service Agency website at www.fsa.usda.gov.

Photograph: USDA

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