To qualify as a beginning farmer or rancher, the borrower must meet the following criteria:
The applicant must be an individual actively engaged in an agricultural or ranch operation or must become actively engaged in an agricultural or ranch operation upon receiving the loan.
The applicant may not have a net worth (including the net worth of the farmer's or rancher's spouse) of more than $500,000.
- The loan may not be made to a firm, partnership or corporation.
A "beginning farmer/rancher" is an individual who has not at any time had any direct or indirect ownership interest in "substantial farmland".
- "Net worth" for this program is the farmer's or rancher's assets, valued at their fair market value, less the farmer's or rancher's
- "Substantial farmland" is any parcel of land greater than 30% of the median size of a farm in the county in which the parcel is located (see Previous Ownership table).
- Any ownership or material participation, or financing received by the person's spouse or minor child is treated as ownership and material participation or financing received by the borrower. (Property farmed under a true lease or rental arrangement is generally not considered as "owned".)
- An individual who owned farmland which was subsequently disposed of while such individual was insolvent may, in some situations, still qualify as a first-time farmer for this program. Contact NIFA for the specific requirements.
- An individual with an interest in a trust, corporation or partnership, which trust corporation or partnership owns land, may be disqualified as a first-time farmer. Contact NIFA for details.
The aggregate amount of the loans (subject to limitations on depreciable property) received by a farmer or rancher (including the farmer or rancher's spouse or minor children) cannot exceed $524,200* (*adjusted annually for inflation/deflation).