At a time when the American economy is soft and responding slowly to stimulus funds from the government, the National Livestock Producers Association's (NLPA) Sheep and Goat Fund is proving that modest amounts of money from the U.S. treasury can be extremely beneficial to businesses across the nation.
The NLPA Sheep and Goat Fund made its first loan in September 2000. Since that time, the fund has made more than $27 million in low-interest loans with flexible terms to producers to enhance operations that deal with sheep and goats and their products. Those loans have gone to 57 borrowers in 27 states, noted Scott Stuart, NLPA president and chief executive officer.
"The fund has been a positive force to help many businesses succeed," said Stuart, pointing out that one of the fund's success stories is illustrated by Cypress Grove Dairy in California.
"The fund helped us with an expansion that made it possible for our dairy to enter a larger market," said Mary Keehn with Cypress Grove Dairy in Arcata. "Our award-winning cheeses are now available at Whole Foods nationwide. The fund was available to our business at a critical time and we are grateful for that."
According to Peter Orwick, executive director of the American Sheep Industry Association, the fund helped improve the wool chain in the United States.
"The Sheep Venture Co. appreciates the opportunity the loan fund provided in our initiative to have shrink-proof wool processing available in America," he said. "This equipment we brought in from Italy in 2010 represents the first wool textile equipment imported to the United States in 20 years."
During the first decade of operations, the fund provided seed money for dairies, woolen mills, wool marketing warehouses and the purchase of various kinds of processing, manufacturing and packaging equipment. It has also helped provide funds for feed mills, predator control efforts and genetics programs.
Funds are available to qualified applicants at a competitive interest rate. Some basic information about the fund includes: