In this photo taken Oct. 31, 2011, central Illinois farmer Dale Hadden climbs onto a combine on the family farm near Jacksonville, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is announcing new loans of up to $35,000 for those who want to start or expand small farms.
Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday that the new "microloans" are designed to help bolster family-run farms and help veterans or socially disadvantaged farmers who may otherwise have trouble securing small loans from banks or other USDA programs.
Vilsack spoke with The Associated Press ahead of an official announcement Tuesday.
The loans can help farmers seeking to grow organic crops to sell directly to ethnic and farmers markets. Vilsack says they also can help beginning farmers cover startup expenses such as seed, tools, irrigation, fertilizer and delivery vehicles.
The microloan program also provides a more simplified application process in comparison with traditional farm loans