February 01, 2012

Dept. of Ag, USDA-NRCS Launch High Tunnel Program

Loans, Reimbursement available for Missouri Producers Growing Fresh Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs

Missouri farmers interested in growing fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and other produce during winter months can receive loans and reimbursement for installing high tunnels on their property. The high tunnel program, a partnership between federal and state agencies, assists producers in diversifying existing operations by expanding the produce-growing season and by reducing the financial barriers to producers building new operations.

High tunnels are unheated greenhouses that can increase production as much as three times by increasing the growing season for fruit and vegetables. The tunnels typically cost between $4,000 and $6,000 each to purchase and install.

"The new High Tunnel Loan Program is one of the many outstanding tools the Department of Agriculture makes available to our producers as we move Missouri agriculture forward," said Missouri's Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "Through this partnership, we are able to reduce barriers for Missouri farmers building their businesses while providing communities with fresh, wholesome, locally-grown produce."

Last week, the Missouri Agriculture and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA) voted to provide short term loans to Missouri producers approved to receive a cost-share reimbursement through the USDA NRCS EQIP Seasonal High Tunnel System Initiative or the EQIP Organic Initiative. Producers may combine the loan with their participation in the USDA-NRCS programs, reducing producers' out of pocket costs for purchasing and constructing high tunnels.

Applications for the loan program are available online via the Missouri Department of Agriculture website. Producers may also contact their local USDA-NRCS office for application information and forms. For more information about the Missouri Department of Agriculture and its programs, visit the Department online at http://www.mda.mo.gov.