Gov. John Kasich signed into law this week legislation expanding funds to help Ohio farmers offset costs associated with feed, seed, fertilizer and fuel through the Agricultural Linked Deposit Program (Ag-LINK).
Ag-LINK per-loan amounts have now been expanded from $100,000 to $150,000, and total funds available to the program increased from $125 million per fiscal year to $165 million.
According to the State Treasurer’s office, Ag-LINK has been increasing opportunities for Ohio’s farmers to operate and thrive by offering a reduced interest rate on operating loans and credit lines for more than 25 years.
Use of Ag-LINK
Clark County Farm Bureau member Ty Callicoat has used Ag-LINK for 15 years.
“It was a big help as I was a first generation farmer and didn’t have a lot of capital starting out,” he said. “It saved me a lot of money in interest charges that I was able to reinvest in my operation to help it grow.”
The previous per-loan amount of $100,000 was considered by many Ag-LINK participants to be an unrealistic amount to help offset the increasing cost of inputs in the past decade.
“During the first few years (of the Ag-LINK program), corn was $2 and inputs were 25 percent of what they are now,” Callicoat said. “The $100,000 limit used to pay for almost all my inputs, but now it doesn’t cover even half.”
In the past, if a participant needed loans that exceeded $100,000 they had to find a second loan source to meet all of their financial needs, but the increase from $100,000 to $150,000 per loan helps keeps the program relevant for Ohio farmers.
Increasing the total funds available for the program from $125 million to $165 million per year keeps up with the general growth within the treasury and permits the state to expand individual loan amounts without significantly reducing the number of farmers who are able to participate.
The legislation that expands the Ag-LINK program was sponsored by Reps Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) and Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) and Sen. Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City). The bill had the support of Treasurer Josh Mandel and many agricultural organizations.
To qualify for the program, farms must be for-profit with headquarters and more than half of their land and facilities maintained in Ohio. Additionally, farmers must have a documented need for the reduced interest rate, and may request the reduction for up to the first $150,000 of a loan.
“Programs like Ag-LINK give the State of Ohio an opportunity to invest in Ohioans,” said Beth Vanderkooi, Ohio Farm Bureau director of state policy. “It also ensures that young or beginning farmers, who often have a wealth of knowledge but very little capital have the opportunity to get a start. It is a great program for Ohio agriculture and the state of Ohio.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read OFBF’s issue briefing on Ag-LINK
Read OFBF board member, Katherine Harrison’s testimony for expansion of the Ag-LINK program to the House Ag and Natural Resource Committee
Visit the Ag-LINK website