Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) made an announcement that will benefit small- to mid-scale farms around the nation. Among other uses, the Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) Program will help finance extra shipping and storage with portable storage containers on farms.
Although the program already provided storage options, the addition of portable storage containers opens up many possibilities for these farmers. Not only can the storage containers securely hold plenty of crops and equipment, but they can also make it extremely easy to transport the goods to different locations, such as farmer’s markets, restaurants, schools, and any other location.
Changes to the Farm Storage Facility Loan Program
The changes to the FSFL program went into effect on April 29, 2016. The addition not only covers the shipping containers themselves, but also the use of trucks and other equipment necessary for mobility. Previously, only permanent, stationary storage was included for financing. Eligible portable storage includes manufactured containers that can be transported by hitching or mounting to a truck or trailer.
The portable handling equipment that is covered includes:
- Hydraulic fork-lifts
- Wheel loaders
- Skid steers
- Front-end loaders
- 3-point hitch lifts
A variety of other equipment is included in the program:
- Batch dryers
- Bulk tanks
- Small tools
- Storage containers
- Various other equipment
This variety of equipment will help farmers with every aspect of storage and shipment of their goods. Consider everything that goes into moving crops from the farm to a market. The goods need to be weighed, sorted, and placed into storage. The storage might need to be over an extended period of time and include refrigeration for the products. Then they need to be moved near or far to their destination.
Benefits of Portable Storage for Small Farms
There are many benefits to portable storage over permanent structures. Already mentioned is the mobility offered that allows easy movement of goods to markets and other locations. Portable storage containers are also overall less expensive than permanent structures. This is especially true since the FSFL program allows for financing on both new and used portable storage containers. These benefits will help small farms in particular, since they often cannot afford the extra prices attached to permanent storage. They also won't need to pay for extra shipping equipment.
This program also helps small farmers by offering microloans. The paperwork involved has been simplified and allows for low-interest loans under $50,000. When applying, the farmer can self-certify his or her production history and storage needs rather than going through an arduous 3-year reporting process.
The expansion of the FSFL program will help small- to mid-scale farmers across the U.S. Using portable storage containers on farms benefits them greatly by offering cheap, secure, mobile storage options.