This week USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced changes to loan limits and launched a new website feature that allows farmers to access all of their loan information.
Higher Loan Limits
“As natural disasters, trade disruptions, and persistent pressure on commodity prices continue to impact agricultural operations, farm loans become increasingly important to farmers and ranchers,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said in a press release. “The 2018 Farm Bill provides increased loan limits and more flexibility to farm loans, which gives producers more access to credit when they need it most.”
Key changes include:
- The Direct Operating Loan limit increased from $300,000 to $400,000, and the Guaranteed Operating Loan limit increased from $1.429 million to $1.75 million.
- The Direct Farm Ownership Loan limit increased from $300,000 to $600,000, and the Guaranteed Farm Ownership Loan limit increased from $1.429 million to $1.75 million.
- Producers who previously received debt forgiveness as part of an approved FSA restructuring plan are now eligible to apply for emergency loans. Previously, these producers were ineligible.
- Beginning and socially disadvantaged producers can now receive up to a 95% guarantee against the loss of principal and interest on a loan. This is up from 90%.
The new website feature allows farmers who have borrowed money from USDA to view all of their financial information online.
“They're able to go and look at their balances online, look at when their next payment’s due, how much interest has accrued since their last payments and look at actually back through many years of history in previous paid-off notes as well, to see what they paid,” USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey told AgriTalk host Chip Flory. “They actually start some of the application process there as well. Right now, it's about having that information available.”
Only individuals can be authorized to use the dashboard, according to Northey. USDA is still working on the process to get entities, corporations and partnerships signed up for access. Adding efficiency for loan officers and convenience for farmers are the goals of the new dashboard. No longer do farmers have to wait for a loan officer to be available to access their information.
“Of course, if you want to come in and talk to a loan officer, call them up,” Northey said. “We still encourage that whenever you'd like that to happen. But there's a lot of folks that will use this function for those simple processes. They can do that in the middle of the night, if they like.”