ANCA launches fund to help farmers | News, Sports, Jobs

SARANAC LAKE — The Adirondack North Country Association has launched a new program to help farmers and food entrepreneurs who are having difficulty accessing financing through conventional lenders.

ANCA’s SOIL Loan Fund will provide flexible zero-interest loans between $5,000 and $45,000 to qualified agriculture and food businesses. The non-profit regional economic development organization created the program in response to a demonstrated need among North Country producers.

ANCA is working with Foodshed Capital, a certified community development finance institution focused on equitable access and regenerative agriculture, to implement the $100,000 fund.

“Farming presents unique challenges and risks, especially in Upstate New York, where farmers face short growing and marketing seasons, few processing facilities, and a relatively small and dispersed customer base” , said Elizabeth Cooper, executive director of the ANCA. “These and other challenges can make it difficult for small farms to qualify for financing that can help them grow.

“Foodshed Capital offers an effective model that combines loans with direct technical assistance such as accounting, marketing assistance and the development of advanced business plans”, Cooper added. “Thanks to Foodshed’s lending strategy and our close relationships with the farming community in the region, we can begin to meet the financing needs of local producers.

Adam Dewbury, NAFC’s Local Food Systems Program Manager, highlighted the importance of small investments for farm resilience.

“We know that a loan for a $15,000 piece of equipment can be paid off in a few years and then return the profits to the farm. This relatively small investment can pay big dividends by allowing farmers to increase production or create new savings,” he said. “The resulting profits can then be reinvested in the farm, and the funds from the repaid loan can be loaned to another farmer. Working with Foodshed Capital allows us to provide financing where it’s needed and use their expertise to help farms thrive.

Funds for the loan program came from the Adirondack Bank; Adirondack Foundation Generous Deeds Fund; Heidecorn Family Fund and Sonneborn Adirondack Fund; the Glenn & Carol Pearsall Adirondack Fund; Jaideep and Rachel Khanna Foundation; National Grid; NBT Bank; Brian and Ginny Ruder; as well as crowdfunding via social networks.

“We are grateful for the regional support the Fund has already received,” said Cooper. “It underscores the value our communities place on a strong local food system.”

“We commend ANCA for launching a new program that addresses an important need and helps farmers access capital and invest in their businesses,” said Adirondack Foundation President and CEO Cali Brooks. “This grant is one of many Generous Acts grants supporting vital components of our local food system.”

The SOIL Loan Fund was developed to support food producers who find it difficult to access finance through conventional loan programs due to the challenges and risks inherent in small-scale farming, particularly marginalized populations with a history of exclusion from agriculture.

According to Cooper, the ANCA received more than $1.6 million in grant applications in 2019-20 for $200,000 of available funding, demonstrating a significant need among North Country producers. NAFC provided grants to 16 farms and businesses for projects that improved farm stability and access to local foods.

Interested growers are invited to learn more about the SOIL Loan Fund at and contact Adam Dewbury at [email protected] or 518-891-6200 for more information on the application process. .

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