By Allison Vierps, Farm Service Agency
Growing up on a cattle operation in Grove, Oklahoma, Kelsey Hale knew which career path she wanted to take by the time she was a junior in high school. At 16, she was determined to start a herd of her own.
“We had any farm animal you could think of. Chickens, cattle, horses, goats, everything,” said Kelsey.
Starting the Herd
Kelsey was heavily involved in her local FFA program in high school, serving as an officer for four years. She showed hogs for several years, competed in livestock judging and attended FFA events year-round.
At this point in her life, Kelsey was sure she wanted to be a cattle producer. It wasn’t until her FFA advisor told her about the youth loan program through USDA’s Farm Service Agency that she knew where to begin.
“He sat us down and told us about this program that could help us with buying show animals or in my case, start my own production,” she said.
FSA’s youth loan program allows anyone from age 10 to 20 to take out a loan up to $5,000. The loans can be used for FFA, 4-H, or other agriculture-related organizations, so long as the project is modest in size and profitable. To apply, the borrower must have a thorough plan and budget to present to the FSA, along with a plan for loan repayment.
Kelsey was able to purchase two heifers with the youth loan. She paid off her loan when she sold her show hogs at the end of the show season.
“My parents helped me out here and there with feed, but I paid off the loan when I sold my hogs about a year later. It wasn’t a very big loan, so it was a good place to start,” Kelsey said.
Growing and Operation
Now that she’s graduated from the youth loan program, Kelsey and her husband, Dalton, now own a small operation. The two run a herd of 25 cattle and have plans to add 10 more.
Farm loan programs from FSA have helped the couple purchase land, cattle, and equipment. These programs offer direct and guaranteed loans to farmers and ranchers to promote, build, and sustain family farms for a thriving agricultural economy.
USDA offers a variety of risk management, disaster assistance, loan, and conservation programs to help agricultural producers in the United States weather ups and downs in the market and recover from natural disasters as well as invest in improvements to their operations. Learn about additional programs.
For more information about USDA programs and services, contact your local USDA service center.