The USDA announced that distressed borrowers with qualifying USDA farm loans have already received $800 million in assistance to keep them on their farms. The funds are a part of the $3.1 billion in assistance provided through the Inflation Reduction Act. He says USDA and the Farm Service Agency are changing the way they deal with distressed borrowers to make sure producers can keep farming.
Vilsack; “In the past, that approach has been to monitor performance and, in the event that people were unable to make payments, the USDA would then go through the legal processes of collecting the debt. We’re going to focus on a more proactive approach to avoid those circumstances and situations and try to address and assist folks before they get to a point of no return.”
The assistance has provided immediate help for more than 13,000 distressed USDA farm loan borrowers. But Vilsack says there are a lot of other farmers in similar predicaments.
Vilsack; “One group is roughly 1600 borrowers who are 60 days or more delinquent, but who are now engaged in a bit more complicated circumstances. Either they’re in bankruptcy or they were already in foreclosure at the time that moratorium went into place, and we will be working with them on a case-by-case basis to figure out ways in which we can handle and deal with the delinquency that they find themselves and the circumstances that they find themselves in. We also know that there are about 14,000 borrowers in our loan portfolio who we suspect, in looking at and understanding their current circumstances, may be confronted with a cash flow challenge for a variety of reasons. So, we’ll be working on a case-by-case basis with those roughly 14,000 borrowers to assist them and to provide resources from the $500 million we’ve set aside so that they too have peace of mind.”
Deputy USDA Secretary Jewell Bronaugh says this relief is long overdue.
Bronaugh; “At-risk farmers across the country have needed a lifeline for far too long. As a former FSA State Executive Director, I know firsthand what happens to farmers who receive too little, too late, and that has implications that go well beyond just the loss of a farm operation, which is devastating enough. But the impact on that producer, his or her family and that personal intergenerational loss, the loss of multiple generations of a family commitment to stay on that land and to keep farming is why we make this commitment.”
More details on each of the assistance categories, including a downloadable fact sheet, are available on the Inflation Reduction Act webpage on farmers.gov.