Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Is Announcing a New Hurricane Relief Effort Targeting Small Farms in NC & SC

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The Hurricane Relief Partnership for Carolina Sustainable Farms will provide these farms with affordable financing for hurricane recovery expenses, and access to business counseling to help them chart a path to financial stability in the aftermath of the deadly storms.

“Hundreds of sustainable farms in the Carolina’s suffered from these hurricane disasters. Unfortunately, there are major obstacles that keep small local food producers from participating in the national farm disaster safety net,” said Roland McReynolds, CFSA Executive Director. “This partnership provides a recovery lifeline tailored to the needs of local food farms.”

The partnership is funded by a $100,000 gift to CFSA from the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company. Using donated funds, CFSA is supporting the Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIFund) to launch the RESEED Recovery Fund, which will make $250,000 available for low-cost loans of $2,500 to $10,000 for sustainable farms in North and South Carolina that suffered losses due to Florence and Michael. CFSA is guaranteeing these loans, so that small farms that might not otherwise qualify for traditional bank loans can get quick access to recovery funds.

Hurricane-impacted farmers or value-added producers with documented sales of greater than $5,000 in 2017 or 2018 are eligible to apply. Loans will be offered at 1% with a maximum term of 1 year, and a $100 fee if the loan is funded. RESEED loans may be used for a variety of purposes, including: replacing damaged plants and livestock; repairing infrastructure and equipment; or serving as bridge loans for future insurance payments or grants. A grant to NCIFund from Wells Fargo provides a portion of the capital available for RESEED loans. An application for RESEED loans is available on the NCIFund website.

And as part of this partnership, the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA) will provide financial counseling to farms applying for RESEED loans. RAFI-USA will help these farmers assess their financial viability and which disaster recovery options make the most sense.

“Limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers are particularly vulnerable to disasters like Florence and Michael, since they have less crop insurance coverage and fewer resources to help them bounce back,” noted Rick Larson, Sr. Vice President of NCIFund. “Affordable loans, paired with the support and counseling that CFSA and RAFI-USA will provide, are critical to helping farmers not only replace what they’ve lost, but also pursue new approaches that will make their operations more resilient over time.”

CFSA’s loan guarantee funds for the RESEED program will become a guaranteed pool for weather-related farm losses beyond 2019. CFSA will solicit other contributions to this endowment, with a goal of building a larger guarantee fund to support greater availability of low-cost, low-underwriting microloans for this population of small, sustainable farms in future years.

“This partnership marks the beginning of a new strategy in building the financial resilience of our region’s sustainable agriculture community,” said McReynolds. “The increased probability of future disasters due to climate change is a long-term threat to the survival of local, organic family farms in this region. The contributions these farms make to their communities — enhanced soil and water quality, biodiversity, healthy food, economic growth — are vital, and when one of these farms is lost, it has long-lasting negative effects.”

“CFSA is committed to food and farming systems that are good for farmers and farmworkers, good for consumers, and good for our land, water, and air,” McReynolds said. “Sustainable family farms are the foundation of that vision, and we are thrilled to join with Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, NCIFund, RAFI-USA, and Wells Fargo to offer help for those farms in this time of urgent need.”

NCIFund will be accepting RESEED applications on a first-come-first-serve basis until March 31, 2019. Before applying, farmers interested in a RESEED loan are strongly encouraged to contact TF Congleton at NCIFund at 252-916-5211 or tcongleton@conservationfund.org.

More information is available. This includes information on what it means for CFSA members, eligibility, terms, how to apply, and more. 

RESEED Recovery Fund application