immediate assistance to more than 13,000 distressed USDA farm loan borrowers; Start process to provide up to $500 million additional to up to 23,000 additional borrowers
Washington, October 18 2022 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that distressed borrowers with eligible USDA agricultural loans have already received nearly $800 million in assistance, as part of the $3.1 billion in assistance to distressed agricultural borrowers provided through Section 22006 of the Reduction Act. Inflation (IRA). The IRA directed the US Department of Agriculture to expedite assistance to distressed borrowers for direct or secured loans administered by the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Services Agency (FSA) whose operations face financial risk.
Today’s announcement begins a process to provide assistance to distressed agricultural borrowers using several complementary approaches, with the goal of keeping them in agriculture, removing obstacles that currently prevent many of these borrowers from returning to agriculture, and improving the way the USDA approaches borrowing and service. With this assistance, the USDA is focused on achieving stability and long-term success for distressed borrowers.
“Our country’s farmers and ranchers have faced very difficult conditions over the past few years through no fault of their own,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The funding included in today’s announcement helps keep our farmers planting and provides a fresh start for producers in difficult situations.”
Work has already begun to bring some relief to the distressed farmers. As of today, more than 13,000 borrowers have already benefited from the resources provided under the Inflation Reduction Act as follows:
- Approximately 11,000 direct and secured borrowers were delinquent in their current accounts. The USDA also paid the next scheduled annual installment to these direct borrowers, giving them peace of mind in the near term.
- This debt was settled to about 2,100 borrowers whose farms were foreclosed on and still had residual debts in order to stop debt collection and ease the burden that made getting a fresh start more difficult.
In addition to the automatic assistance already provided, the USDA has also identified steps to manage up to an additional $500 million in payments for the following distressed borrowers:
- The USDA will manage $66 million in separate automatic payments, using COVID-19 pandemic relief funds, to support up to 7,000 direct loan borrowers who have used the FSA’s disaster-disaster option during the pandemic to move their scheduled payments to the end of their loans.
- The USDA has also initiated two case-by-case processes to provide additional assistance to agricultural loan borrowers. Under the first new process, the FSA will review and assist in past 1,600 complex cases, including cases where borrowers face bankruptcy or foreclosure. The second new operation will add a new option using existing direct loan service standards to step in faster and help an estimated 14,000 cash-strapped borrowers seeking help to avoid even default.
Similar to other USDA assistance, all such payments will be reported as income and borrowers are encouraged to consult their tax advisors. The USDA also has resources and partnerships with collaborators who can provide additional assistance and help borrowers navigate the process.
Today’s announcement is only the first step in USDA’s efforts to provide assistance to non-performing agricultural loan borrowers, respond to farmers, and improve USDA’s loan servicing efforts by adding more tools and easing unnecessary restrictions. More announcements and investments in assistance will be announced as the USDA institutes these additional changes and improvements.
This effort will eventually also include adding more tools and easing unnecessary restrictions through the assistance that Congress has made available through the IRA. Further assistance and changes to the approach will be made in later stages.
The USDA provides access to credit to nearly 115,000 producers who cannot obtain sufficient commercial credit through direct and secured agricultural loans, which it does Not Includes farm storage facility loans or marketing assistance loans. With funds and guidance provided by Congress in Section 22006 of the IRA, the USDA is taking action to immediately provide relief to eligible defaulting borrowers whose operations are at financial risk while working to make transformative changes to how USDA serves long-term loans so that long-term loans are provided Borrowers have the flexibility and opportunity to face the inherent risks and unpredictability associated with agricultural operations and to remain in good financial standing.
In January 2021, USDA suspended And other negative actions on direct agricultural loans due to the pandemic encouraged secured lenders to follow suit. Last week, the USDA reiterated this request for secured lenders to make time for the full range of distressed borrower assistance an IRA provides before lenders take irreparable actions.
Producers can explore the loan options available using Farm loan finder at farm.gov (Also available in Spanish) or by contacting them Local USDA Service Center. Producers can also call the FSA call center at 877-508-8364 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET. The USDA has tax-related resources available at farmers.gov/taxes.
The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, and building new markets and streams of income For farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across management by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To find out more, visit www.usda.gov.
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