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(Jefferson City) – Missouri farmers have teamed up with the USDA and the Missouri departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources to strengthen their operations to open new opportunities to receive loans and reimbursements to make on-farm improvements.

One such opportunity is The Bridge Loan Program, which is a partnership between federal and state agencies that assists farmers by reducing the financial barriers for some state and federal programs.

The Missouri Agricultural and Small Businesses Development Authority voted to expand a 2012 loan program that focused on producing a much wider range of programs.

These programs would include cost-share programs that are available through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Soil and Water Conservation Program (SWCP) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

The Bridge Loan Program will build onto the 2012 High Tunnel Loan Program, which allows producers to combine the loan with their participation in the USDA-NRCS program, reducing producers out of pocket costs.

For producers to be eligible for assistance through the Bridge Loan Program they must be approved for cost-share reimbursements through the USDA-NRCS, EQIP and/or SWCP. Additionally they must be able to show proof of financial ability to cover any gaps between reimbursement amounts and project costs, should a gap arise.

All applicants must be currently materially participating in the farming operation and at risk for price or production cost and must commit reimbursement payments to fulfill the loan note to the NRCS or SWCP.

Every loan offered through the Bridge Loan Program will include monthly interest payments at a 5.9 percent interest rate and a $25 closing cost. Funds may be withdrawn only when practices are being implemented, and loan terms may be up to the duration of USDA-NRCS, EQIP and SWCP programs.

Loan applications are available online, or by contacting the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority at masbda@mda.mo.gov.

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