Vilsack Says IRA Alone Can’t Solve Farm Loan Delinquencies

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says it will take more than a single program to stem the tide of U.S. farm bankruptcies, and his latest $3 billion bid to prevent more, is just one-part of a bigger strategy.

Thousands of farms go out of business every year in the U.S., and Secretary Vilsack admits the long-running problem is too big for one program to solve. Vilsack; “It is obvious to me, that we need more, new and better markets for farmers, generally. When ERS reports that roughly 89 percent of farms don’t generate a majority of income for the farm family that’s farming the farm, it tells me that there’s more work to be done.”

Vilsack just announced more than $3 billion in spending from the Inflation Reduction Act to help some 36,000 distressed or delinquent FSA borrowers avoid or deal with foreclosure. But the problem is a long-term structural one that Vilsack says requires new “revenue streams” USDA is trying to create. Vilsack; “Climate-smart agricultural commodities with local and regional food system, with additional competition, with additional processing capacity, with an investment in organic transition, to be able to enable farmers to transition to a higher-value proposition on their farm.”

Biofuels and conservation programs like EQIP and RCPP also got a boost from Congress.

Vilsack; “A historic investment in conservation that will reinforce what we’re doing on the climate-smart commodities standpoint, and the decarbonization of the Rural Utilities Service, will lower costs, lower utility costs and create more renewable energy opportunities for farmers.”

Vilsack says back-to-back record farm exports the last two-years also provide increased revenue for producers.

But soaring input costs, food inflation, supply chain issues and Russia’s war in Ukraine are eating away at farm profits, leaving loan delinquencies a continuing problem for American agriculture.