The U.S. Small Business Administration wants to hear from poultry farmers at a North Hall forum this week about challenges they face in seeking government-backed loans.
The agency is seeking “to better understand the credit needs of small business poultry farmers, their business operations and their relationship to (companies) in the poultry industry,” a SBA press release states.
The forum is set for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16, at the North Hall Community Center, 4175 Nopone Road, Gainesville.
The event is being held as part of an SBA effort reviewing policies and procedures regarding loans to small business farmers in the poultry industry.
Public forum on loans
What: The U.S. Small Business Administration is seeking to hear from poultry farmers about challenges in getting SBA-backed loans.
When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16
Where: North Hall Community Center, 4175 Nopone Road, Gainesville
More info: 404-331-0100; advanced registration is required.
Helping trigger the review was a March 8 report from the federal Office of Inspector General that questioned “some specific loans and really wanted to dig deeper into the grower-integrator relationship,” Region Administrator Ashley Bell said Monday.
Integrators are companies that hire farms to raise chickens.
“What place is better than Gainesville, Ga., to have that conversation about capital access and opportunities for poultry farmers?” said Bell, a Gainesville native.
A second forum will take place later in Little Rock, Ark.
“These are two of the largest areas for poultry producing in the country,” Bell said.
The average poultry loan is about $1 million, and total amount of loans annually nationwide is $1.8 billion, he said.
Loans can be used to expand operations, buy equipment or a “litany of other things,” Bell said.
“That’s a big question we’re going to ask folks,” he said.
A big concern at the federal level is “how can we facilitate the free flow of capital to worthy applicants and make it less burdensome?” Bell said. “How can we cut the red tape?
“We need to listen first before we make any policy change.”
And the forums in Gainesville and Little Rock “are going to be key in setting that policy for the entire industry,” Bell said.