The Tools For Starting a Successful Farming Operation

Young farmer standing in corn field with laptop
24 Oct 2023

Many young adults today are contemplating taking over a farm operation or going out and starting their own from the ground up. This can be a very difficult voyage with many obstacles to overcome in the beginning years. Much like every farmer wants to have a shop full of tools to prepare equipment for the season or to fix breakdowns when they inevitably happen, the same is true for having the right tools at your disposal when it comes to the business end of your farming operation.  

Not having the right tools in the early years of farming can weigh heavy on any new farm. Every beginning farmer needs to have an engaged accountant, crop insurance agent, banker, and tax preparer in their corner to call upon when needed. Through the years, AgCountry Farm Credit has seen what it takes to build a successful business in the early years and has aligned itself to be a tool to assist those operations.  

The early years are a time of rapid expansion, which causes operations to have the most vulnerability. It’s important to have a plan in all aspects of the business and to have a plan B if needed. AgCountry’s Starting Gate program allows young and beginning farmers and ranchers to have an advantage in those early years. Through Starting Gate, young and beginning farmers and ranchers have access to discounted interest rates, reduced fees, and discounted service prices. Most importantly they have access to staff fully engaged in seeing the farm overcome any early obstacles that come their way. Every farmer remembers obtaining the first operating loan for the farm. AgCountry is looking to be that lender by providing them with the first opportunity to succeed and be there throughout the years.  

With Starting Gate, beginning farmers can gain leverage because the normal collateral and lending standards have been aligned to fit the needs of these types of operations. Instead of needing cash down payments, which can be required when financing land or equipment, Starting Gate customers can be financed without having to dig deep into their much-needed working capital.  

There is an ongoing need for education through the early years, where adapt and change is the name of the game. Starting Gate participants can qualify for a scholarship program to continue their ongoing education by attending marketing classes, ag conferences, and farm-related education programs. This education brings knowledge back to the farm where it’s applied to their operations.    

Paralleling the Starting Gate program, AgCountry continues to be a Preferred Lender (PLP) through the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency’s Guaranteed Loan Program. Being a PLP lender allows expedited actions on guaranteed loan requests as well as giving these young and beginning farmers and ranchers the peace of mind that their operation will have a full array of guaranteed loan tools at their disposal should a difficult year come along.  Beginning operations that utilize Starting Gate will have a lender with extensive knowledge of the wide array of state and federal loan programs available to them. 

Rising costs and increasing land prices may cause shortfalls to occur inside the state and federal loan programs due to lending limits. AgCountry has filled the needs of young and beginning operations by putting together joint financing packages for these larger purchases.  pLoan structuring and lending standards under the Starting Gate program allow the farmer to obtain the needed financing in a way that optimizes cash flow. We can assist with the paperwork to help alleviate the overwhelming feeling that sometimes comes when applying for these programs. There are time limits on being a beginning farmer or rancher, so it is best to take advantage of them while you can and take the managed risks to grow your operation in the early years.   

AgCountry’s roots in agriculture provide the next generation of American agriculture with the tools to be successful in their endeavors and leave a legacy for the next generation. If you are interested in learning more about Starting Gate, please contact your local AgCountry office. 

Written By: Michael Kitchell
VP Loan Officer - Ada