In Texas, small things lead to big success

Farm Forum

When Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hosted a town hall meeting in San Antonio, Texas, in January 2013, he shared information about USDA’s microloan program. The program allows beginning, small and mid-sized farmers to access up to $35,000 in loans using a simplified application process.

Beginning farmers Brittany Davis and Anthony Micheli were in the audience and they were listening. The two were inspired to meet with their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) representatives to apply for a microloan.

Davis and Micheli own a vegetable, egg and honey operation in Hays County, Texas, where they grow seasonal vegetables that are sold at several farmers’ markets throughout the area. They also run a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSA programs allow consumers to purchase a share from the farmer and in return, the consumer receives fresh vegetables each week. The couple currently has 60 CSA members. They stopped accepting new members temporarily, so they could expand and improve their operation. They plan to resume the CSA program this spring when they are fully operational.

Davis and Micheli grew their operation this year by adding 2.5 acres. FSA approved them for a Microloan that they used to make several improvements to the property.

The Microloan helped them do many things: bring an old well back into working condition; add a bigger storage tank and run pipe for irrigation from the well to the field; and it enabled them to add a cold storage room, high-fence the property and purchase a tractor and equipment.

“We worked with the ladies in the Guadalupe County FSA office to secure our Microloan and they were just awesome,” said Micheli. “You can tell that the employees work for us. It’s a government program where the people really care and try to get you set up quickly.”

Davis and Micheli are already talking about paying off this Microloan and applying for another Microloan to build a barn.

“This loan program gives hard working people the opportunity to move their business forward several huge leaps to become more successful,” said Micheli. “Without the equipment and improvements we made with the Microloan funds, it would have taken us 10 to 15 years to get where we are now.”

Texas led the country with the highest number of microloans, 268 totaling $5,377,100. To date, USDA has issued more than 4,900 microloans totaling $97 million. Visit the FSA website to learn more about our farm loan programs.