a Suri Farm, ltd.

Fine Peruvian Alpacas in the Heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country!

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May 01, 2017

By: Monica Kline

Get Your Money for Nothin' and Your 'Pacas for Free

Well, not exactly, but it IS a pretty good deal!

What happens when a visionary Secretary of Agriculture gets together to brainstorm with the Department of Community and Economic Development? A loan program is born that can be described as nothing short of brilliant for the farming industry in the Commonwealth! That’s right; in Pennsylvania $100 million has been set aside for low interest loans to grow agribusiness – and ALPACA FARMS QUALIFY!

A few years ago, PA Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff had an idea. His goal was to offer Pennsylvania farmers the same type of economic stimulus package usually reserved for large corporations with highly paid lobbyists. He wanted to give farmers a financial tool to expand their businesses, knowing first-hand that most farms don’t have a CFO and an accounting department. The program had to be attractive, easily accessible and large enough to accommodate one of the state’s largest industries.

The Department of Agriculture joined forces with the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to create a program called the First Industries Fund that provides $100 million for agriculture and $50 for tourism. Within the First Industries Fund, there are two specific programs that would be a tremendous boost to alpaca farming in Pennsylvania. They are as follows:

Small Business First (SBF) – These are loans from the Commonwealth of up to $200,000 or 40% of the total eligible project costs, whichever is less, used to fund land and building acquisition; machinery and equipment purchases and upgrades; and for working capital. The terms of the loans range from 3 to 15 years and current interest rate can be determined by calling your local community development office.

Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund (MELF) – This loan gives the borrower up to $500,000 or 50% of the total eligible project costs, whichever is less, used for machinery and equipment acquisition and upgrading. Here’s the best part – ALPACAS ARE CONSIDERED EQUIPMENT under this program! Yes, you read that correctly, alpacas ARE equipment to run your agribusiness. No different than a dairy cow that is equipment used to produce milk; alpacas are livestock which in a breeding business are the equipment needed to produce more alpacas and on the fiber side, used to produce fleece. The term of these loans is up to 10 years and again the current interest rate can be determined by calling your local community development office.

Just imagine how many new alpaca farms we’ll be able to start in Pennsylvania with this low interest resource at hand. And the existing alpaca farms are eligible to buy more land, put up a new barn or even add more to their herd. This is a tremendous opportunity to grow our own farm/businesses but also the entire alpaca industry in the state. I wonder if Secretary Wolff saw so many alpacas running through Penn’s Woods when he first thought of this program.

The PAOBA Board has discussed holding a seminar to give our members more detailed information on the First Industries Fund. We’d like to invite Dennis Hall, Senior Economic Development Analyst at PAgrows to speak to us about the funding and the eligible project costs. If you’d be interested in such a program, please email Monica Kline at info@asurifarm.com. In addition, PAOBA members can get more information online at www.PAgrows.com or by calling 1-888-PAgrows.

This article was written by Monica Kline and appeared in the PAOBA Planet in 2006.