USDA provides nearly $800 million in aid payments to help farmers stay in farming

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Immediate relief for over 13,000 distressed USDA agricultural loan borrowers; Begins process to provide up to an additional $500 million to up to 23,000 additional borrowers

WASHINGTON, October 18, 2022 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that distressed borrowers with eligible USDA agricultural loans have already received nearly $800 million in assistance, as part of the relief of $3.1 billion to distressed agricultural borrowers under Section 22006 of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA has directed the USDA to expedite assistance to distressed borrowers of direct or guaranteed loans administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) whose operations are at financial risk.

Today’s announcement launches a process to provide assistance to distressed agricultural borrowers using several complementary approaches, with the goal of keeping them in farming, removing the barriers that currently prevent many of these borrowers to return to farming and improve how the USDA approaches borrowing and servicing. Through this assistance, the USDA focuses on creating long-term stability and success for distressed borrowers.

“Throughout their fault, our country’s farmers and ranchers have faced incredibly difficult circumstances over the past few years,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “The funding included in today’s announcement helps our farmers keep working and provides a fresh start for producers in difficult positions.

Work has already begun to bring some relief to distressed farmers. To date, more than 13,000 borrowers have already benefited from the resources provided by the law on the reduction of inflation as follows:

  • Around 11,000 direct and secured borrowers defaulted on having their accounts checked. The USDA also paid the next scheduled annual installment for these direct borrowers, giving them peace of mind in the short term.
  • About 2,100 borrowers whose farms were foreclosed and who still had debt had their debt resolved to stop debt collections and garnishments, making it more difficult to start fresh.

In addition to the automatic assistance already provided, the USDA also outlined steps to administer up to an additional $500 million in payments for the benefit of the following distressed borrowers:

  • USDA to Administer $66 Million in Separate Automatic Payments, Using COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Funds, to Support Up to 7,000 Direct Borrowers Who Used the Catastrophe Lay-Aside Option from the FSA during the pandemic to move their scheduled payments until the end of their loans.
  • The USDA is also initiating two case-by-case processes to provide additional assistance to agricultural loan borrowers. Under the first new process, the FSA will review and assist with outstanding payments from 1,600 complex cases, including cases in which borrowers face bankruptcy or foreclosure. The second new process will add a new option using existing direct lending service criteria to intervene more quickly and help approximately 14,000 borrowers in financial difficulty who seek help to avoid even becoming delinquent.

More details on each of the aid categories, including a downloadable data sheetare available on the Inflation Reduction Act webpage at farmers.gov.

Similar to other USDA assistance, all such payments will be reported as income and borrowers are encouraged to consult with their tax advisors. The USDA also has resources and partnerships with cooperators who can provide additional assistance and help borrowers navigate the process.

Today’s announcement is just the first step in USDA’s efforts to provide assistance to struggling agricultural borrowers and respond to farmers and to improve USDA’s loan servicing efforts by adding more tools and relaxing unnecessary restrictions. Additional announcements and investments in support will be made as the USDA institutes these additional changes and enhancements.

This effort will also include adding additional tools and easing unnecessary restrictions through assistance made possible by Congress through the IRA. Further assistance and changes to the approach will be made in later phases.

Background

The USDA provides access to credit to approximately 115,000 producers who cannot obtain sufficient commercial credit through direct and guaranteed agricultural loans, which does not not include loans for on-farm storage facilities or loans for marketing assistance. With funds and direction provided by Congress in Section 22006 of the IRA, the USDA is taking steps to provide immediate relief to eligible distressed borrowers whose transactions are at financial risk while working to make transformational changes. how the USDA manages servicing long-term loans so that borrowers have the flexibility and opportunity to deal with the inherent risks and unpredictability associated with farming operations and stay financially healthy.

In January 2021, USDA suspended seizures and other adverse actions on direct agricultural lending due to the pandemic and encouraged secured lenders to follow suit. Last week, the USDA reiterated that request to secured lenders to allow time to make the full package of relief available to distressed IRA borrowers before lenders take irreparable action.

Producers can explore the loan options available using the Farm Loan Discovery Tool on farmers.gov (also available in spanish) or by contacting their local USDA service center. Producers can also call the FSA call center at 877-508-8364 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern Time. The USDA has tax-related resources available at farmers.gov/taxes.

The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming the US food system with greater emphasis on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe food, healthy and nutritious in all communities, creating new markets and income streams for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in clean energy infrastructure and capacity in the rural America, and committing to equity across the department by removing systemic barriers and creating a workforce that is more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

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The USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

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