Low-interest hoophouse loans available through mid-February

Financial incentives offered for growers looking to incorporate high tunnel production into their farming operations.

If you have considered growing fruit or vegetables in high tunnels or hoophouses, but have balked at the high initial investment, you will probably be interested to learn about a loan program available for Michigan growers. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the State of Michigan are offering low-interest loans between $5,000-$15,000 for family farms, educational institutions or non-profits to install passive solar systems, also known as hoophouses. The interest is fixed at 4.0 percent for a maximum of six years with interest-only payments for the first six months of the loan. Borrowers approved through the program will receive training from Michigan State University (MSU) in the installation and use of passive solar systems. MSU will also assist in the process of selecting passive solar systems and related equipment and materials. (Download a hoophouse application and get more information.)

The USDA definition of a family farm considers the following: that the farm produces agricultural commodities for sale in sufficient quantities so that it is recognized as a farm; and the farm has both physical labor and management provided. A recent on-farm research project by 12 private farms and MSU has shown that passive solar systems can generate gross and net sales at a rate that would make a loan repayable in one to four years. The loans can only be used to cover materials, supplies and equipment costs. Applicants can apply now through February 15.

For questions about application requirements, contact David Binkley at 517-373-7673. Questions about projects and technical issues should be directed to Adam Montri at 517-355-5191 ext. 1407.

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