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Whole Foods Market’s Local Producer Loan Program

Whole Foods Market offers loans to small businesses that meet Whole Foods’ quality standards through their Local Producer Loan Program. Loans range from $1,000 to $100,000.

Whole Foods Market is trying to reach the local producers whose products meet Whole Foods quality standards with their Local Producer Loan Program. Whole Foods is committed to offering wholesome, fresh, minimally-processed products to their customers. If you’re looking to expand an existing operation, such as purchasing more animals or building a new barn or shed, this loan program is worth looking into.

Whole Foods is especially looking to promote small-scale agriculture – the operation should be within a few hours’ drive time of one of their stores. Organic producers and humane animal producers are preferred, although vegetable farmers are considered. Recipients of the Local Producer Loan Program have included grass-fed beef ranchers, a jarred pasta sauce producer, a fair trade organic coffee blender, and an organic skin care line.

Producers who already have a product on the shelves of a Whole Foods Market have the best chance of receiving one of the loans, although anyone whose product meets the quality standards can apply. Whole Foods does not require exclusivity of the products; you can sell your product anywhere you want, even after receiving a loan from them.

With interest rates ranging from 5 to 9 percent and the only fees involved being a $65 processing fee, the terms look pretty good for a small loan. There is no penalty for early repayment of the loan.

The Local Producer Loan Program started in 2006 and the first loans were awarded in 2007. Loans will continue to be awarded until a $10 million mark is reached. Over $3 million have been loaned so far, leaving plenty for you. Whole Foods doesn’t offer grants, but there are other places to find grants for small farmers.

Image by rick, used with a Creative Commons license.