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Arizona Farmers Trend Toward More Micro-Loans

(Photo by Casey Kuhn - KJZZ)
A cotton farm.

The American Bankers Association crunched the numbers and found while the amount of farm banks in the nation shrank, farm loans increased.

The data in the West, which includes Arizona, shows that in 2015 loans went up by seven percent, which translates to $600 million.

That report does not include the government-run Farm Service Agency, which provides loans to farmers.

Arizona FSA director Gloria Montaño said her department hasn’t seen an increase overall, but has seen more new farmers looking for micro-loans. Those loans have a more streamlined application process and can be up to $50,000.

“I think there’s a lot of work being done to think about this next generation of farmers," she said. "New farmers, beginning farmers, people that haven’t traditionally been in farming.”

Montaño said the Arizona FSA issued about $16 million in farm loans last year, four percent of which were micro-loans.

Casey Kuhn reports from KJZZ’s West Valley Bureau. She comes to Phoenix from the Midwest, where she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in journalism.Kuhn got her start in radio reporting in college at the community public radio station, WFHB. She volunteered there as a reporter and worked her way up to host the half-hour, daily news show. After graduating, she became a multimedia reporter at Bloomington's NPR/PBS station WFIU/WTIU, where she reported for and produced a weekly statewide news television show.Since moving to the Southwest, she’s discovered a passion for reporting on rural issues, agriculture and the diverse people who make up her community.Kuhn was born and raised in Cincinnati, where her parents instilled in her a love of baseball, dogs and good German beer. You’ll most likely find her around the Valley with a glass of prosecco in one hand and a graphic novel in the other.She finds the most compelling stories come from KJZZ’s listeners.