DOVER — Young Delaware farmers seeking to purchase land may be able to receive assistance through an innovative State of Delaware program.
The Young Farmers Program is now accepting applications for its third round of funding, with applications due March 31. The program provides long-term, no-interest loans to help eligible farmers purchase land.
“We have had tremendous interest in the program so far,” said Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Austin Short, who oversees the program. “This is a way to help reduce the financial impact on farmers starting out and attract more young people to invest in agriculture.”
The first class of program participants was announced in August 2012. The program is administered by the Delaware Farmland Preservation Program.
Eligible farmers must be between the ages of 18 and 40, have at least three years of farming experience and a net worth of no more than $300,000. The loan money is used to help purchase farmland in Delaware that contains at least 15 tillable acres zoned for agricultural use.
Farmers must actively use the land for agricultural purposes for the term of the loans. The 30-year, no-interest loans may fund up to 70 percent of the value of the property’s development rights, defined as the difference between full market value and agricultural value, up to a maximum of $500,000.
The land purchased with help through the program will also be permanently preserved as farmland through Delaware’s Agricultural Lands Preservation Program.