The role of American rancher is not only a rich part of our country’s history; it has almost a cult-like status in other parts of the world. Early ranching involved moving animals from place to place for grazing until they were ready for market.
Then, large cattle drives brought the animals to Kansas for shipment east to the stockyards of Chicago. This hard life of the cowboy was romanticized in film, making him the icon of the American West. Today’s rancher is proud of that heritage, respecting it even as they move forward with modern ranching methods that allow them to feed our country and help feed the world.
Time and technology have changed the face of ranching. Ranches are still primarily family owned, but increasingly – ranches are owned by women and minorities. Over 10 percent of ranches are now run by women. And the owner-operator of a ranch is more likely than ever to have a college degree or some college, and employ the use of computers in the operation of the business.
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Ranching represents the largest segment of American agriculture. And while ranching in the U.S. encompasses different types of livestock like goats and horses, cattle represent the largest segment. In 2016, U.S. beef production was 25.2 billion pounds.
The majority of that production occurred in Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, California and Oklahoma, but ranching occurs in all U.S. states, with their products exported globally.
Because it is so vital to providing for the welfare of the people of our nation, as well as our economy, many types of federally and privately subsidized ranch financing are available. These funds are available to every type of rancher – from the large rancher raising thousands of heads of
cattle in Montana to the small goat rancher in Florida.
Supporting The American Rancher
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through its Farm Service Agency, known as the FSA, provides a large network of support to the American rancher. The FSA fosters innovation in practices and management that enable ranchers to obtain greater yields and larger profits.
The FSA also supports development of new methods of environmentally sound ranching that encompass both more organic methods and biodynamic ranching and production practices.
They also provide support to all sizes of ranchers through ranch financing. This is a valuable financial resource for all ranchers, but particularly to those in the small and medium-sized range.
The FSA also has loan programs that provide special assistance and ranch financing for the traditionally underserved. This group includes women and minorities such as Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanic, and others.
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Types Of Ranching Loans
The FSA supports all ranchers, but it sets aside special monies to provide ranch financing and extra assistance to new ranchers during their first ten years of operation. Referred to by the name Beginning Farmer, this targeted source of funds provides loans to new ranchers.
There are various types of loans available through the fund including
Farm Ownership loans that assist with the obtaining land and capital, as well as Operating Loans that assist with profitability by helping with operating and living expenses.
The FSA Farm Loan program ensures ranch financing is available to small and medium-sized ranchers in order to help them achieve goals in many areas of operation.
These loans are available for expansion of both acreage and animal count for existing ranches, modernization of buildings on the ranch, replacement of outdated equipment, advertising, and for evolution to a different type of ranching.
With the growing consumer demand for organic food and ethical ranching practices, many ranchers are changing their production to embrace the holistic, ecological and ethical approach that is the hallmark of biodynamic farming and production practices.
They are actively seeking certification from reputable organizations such as TILTH, USDA Organic or CCOF. Ranch financing from FSA can support the costs of these transitions. Through its many programs of education, outreach and support, the FSA plays a vital role in supporting American farmers and ranchers – especially those owned by families.
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Future Generations Of Ranching
The FSA also supports future generations with programs providing ranch financing to youth in order to start small, money-making ventures that train them in the practical day-to-day aspects of agriculture. There are several other organizations that join the FSA in supporting future generations in their desire to run the ranches and farms of the future.
Organizations such as 4H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) help students develop personal skills, agricultural knowledge and the business acumen needed to be successful farmers and ranchers. America’s future needs ranchers and farmers; these organizations help ensure that need will be met.
Commercial Bank Financing
Commercial banks are another source of ranch financing. There are many banks that have special departments educated in the needs of farmers and ranchers. These specialists understand the business of ranching. More importantly, most banks that were lending to agriculture came through the recent financial crisis in good shape.
As a result, credit from these banks was still available to farmers and ranchers during and after the crisis. These banks are equipped to make loans on a variety of ranching needs such as property purchases and large equipment loans.
Real Estate Loans & Ranching
Land is vital to farmers and ranchers. Healthy, viable livestock cannot be raised in crowded conditions. There needs to be enough acreage for grazing to support the population, store forage, house equipment, and support barns and other needed outbuildings.
And ideally a ranch will have enough land for future growth. Real estate loans allow the purchase of the amount of land needed. These loans can also be used to add value to the ranch house.
Financing For Outbuildings & Equipment
Banks also provide ranch financing for outbuildings and equipment. Modern, well-running machinery is vital to a successful operation. Ranching is a hard, sunup-to-sundown job. Well-maintained, modern machinery – that runs when you need it – cuts the time spent on jobs and on the frustration and expense of repairs.
New or used, machinery upgrades that allow for more efficient operation, are valuable tools for the rancher. And that machinery needs to be protected from the deteriorating effects of being in the weather all day, every day.
The cost for machinery storage facilities may be seen as a luxury to some. But when you consider the cost of downtime for equipment, the convenience of having machinery stored in a central facility and higher resale value for stored machinery, the cost may be a worthwhile expense. Additionally, storage for seed, chemicals, and other ranch implements can be incorporated into the building plan.
Day-To-Day Operating Expenses
Loans are also available for day-to-day operating expenses such as feed, seed, chemicals (such as pesticides and herbicides) and repairs. This type of ranch financing can be flexible in terms of line of credit or a one-time cash outlay. The repayment agreement can also be flexible with banks having more leeway in setting the terms of repayment.
Ranching today is still a major and important part of the American economy. Family ranchers have a challenging, but rewarding job that provides a vital contribution to the health and wealth of our nation.
With all these financial resources it can be challenging to decide which one is best for your operation. But, weighing the cost of financing, the terms of repayment against your needs and the projected profits should get you started on your journey of starting or expanding
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