Farm Credit Canada has announced a new loan program aimed at helping young and beginning farmers start and grow their business.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and FCC CEO Greg Stewart introduced the new $500 million Young Farmer Loan program yesterday.

Producers who are under the age of 40 can qualify for loans of up to $500,000 to purchase or improve farmland and buildings. The program includes variable rates at prime plus 0.5 percent and special fixed rates, with no loan processing fees.

According to the 2006 census, farmers between the ages of 18 and 39 make up only 16 percent of Canadian producers.