Manitoba ag lending agency lifts limits on loans

Manitoba’s provincial farm lending agency has raised its ceiling on farm loans and stripped out several of its limits on who can apply for financing and why.

Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp. (MASC) announced changes to its lending mandate Thursday that "will help more farmers access long-term, fixed-rate financing and initiatives for young farmers that MASC currently offers," provincial Agriculture Minister Ron Kostyshyn said.

Among the changes, MASC said it has "eliminated" its previous limits on net worth and off-farm income, a move Kostyshyn said will allow all farmers to be treated "equitably" and give young farmers greater access to credit.

MASC has also boosted its maximum loan limit to $2 million for all applicants, including individuals, joint farm units, partnerships, corporations and co-operatives.

Individuals were previously limited to $900,000 in MASC loans, while corporations and partnerships were able to borrow up to $1.8 million.

Higher loan limits will provide more support for higher-cost operations such as dairy and poultry farms, Kostyshyn said, and also respond to "the rising cost of land for all operations."

MASC has also now completely removed its previous loan limit for purchase, construction or renovation of farm housing. That limit had just been expanded earlier this year to $240,000 to "reflect inflation and increased housing costs."

Financing of new or used farm equipment has also now been made eligible for MASC loans, the province said Thursday.

"These changes respond to advances in the agriculture industry and the evolving needs of today’s producers, many of whom are younger with ambitions to expand and grow their operations," Kostyshyn said in a release.

MASC, whose lending operations are headquartered in Brandon, also operates the province’s crop insurance and wildlife damage compensation programs. The agency also oversees the provincial rebate program on the farmland portion of school taxes, and the 2011 federal/provincial AgriRecovery program.

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