Leader: Dreams Into Reality

Page 6

Farm and Land


First Big Step

WITH A LITTLE HELP Story and photos by Nancy L. Smith

“Without Farm Credit and MARBIDCO, none of this would have been possible,” says Alex Moore of Queenstown, Maryland, reflecting on his purchase of a 173 acre farm in Barclay, Maryland and his plan to build three chicken houses on the property.



lex, 27, and his wife Brooke, 25, can own and operate their own farm at a young age thanks to the close partnership between Farm Credit and the Next Generation Farmland Acquisition Program operated by the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO). MARBIDCO is a quasi-public economic development organization chartered by the State of Maryland. The Next Generation program is designed to preserve farm and forest land for future generations. Its $2.5 million annual appropriation helps qualified young or beginning farmers who have trouble entering agriculture because of high farmland costs and lack of access to adequate financial capital. Allison Roe, MARBIDCO financial program specialist, explains how the program works: “We buy an option-purchase contract that buys the borrower time to try and sell that permanent easement. “When [the borrower] goes to sell the permanent easement, we are repaid. We terminate our contract and then that permanent easement is placed. We get repaid and [the borrower] keeps the difference.” As part of the application process, the borrower meets with the county agricultural land preservation administrator before the land is purchased. The county official completes part of the application certifying the eligibility of the land for a permanent easement. Samantha Steele, The Moore’s loan officer at Farm Credit, says, “In most cases, MARBIDCO will help provide the down payment amount for 100 percent financing. The Moores, through MARBIDCO, were able to sell a 99 year development easement on the new farm. “It allows them to have the funds for a down payment and helps bring the payments down and make it more affordable to start on your own,” Samantha explains. The Moores feel they have been preparing for this next step for their entire lives. Brooke, who has worked with her father, Ralph Whaley, on the family farm in Queenstown, Maryland since she was 12, is on track to earn a business degree from Chesapeake College.