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While it hasn’t yet generated much business, an unexpected source of funds for purchasing no-till drills and planters is available from the federal government. The only drawback is that these 0-percent interest loans, that can be at least partially paid back with U.S. Department of Agriculture cost-share dollars, must be obtained by a public or quasi-public agency rather than directly by farmers.
However, the money from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is available through counties, soil and water conservation districts, irrigation districts and similar agencies with taxing powers who can pass the loans along to farmers.
The money comes from the EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). Because no-till results in less erosion and improved water quality, no-till equipment purchases qualify for the program and the borrower may end up having to pay only 25 percent of the actual equipment bill.
“Basically, this program provides low or no interest loans for water quality improvement projects with very few strings attached,” says Michelle Tucker, coordinator of the CWSRF program. As a result, funds can be used to purchase equipment and also be used in conjunction with other government-generated funds.
She likens the program to a bank, but with much better lending terms. Loans are issued at below-market rates, do not require any up-front cash, can be used to finance 100 percent of equipment costs and provide significant savings to farmers over the life of the loan.