$800M in Debt Relief for Distressed Farmers

In October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $800 million in debt relief to distressed USDA farm loan borrowers.

These funds kick off a process to provide assistance to distressed farm loan borrowers using several complementary approaches, with the goal of keeping them farming, removing obstacles that currently prevent many of these borrowers from returning to farming, and improving the way that USDA approaches borrowing and servicing. Through this assistance, USDA is focused on generating long-term stability and success for distressed borrowers.

According to the USDA press release:

Over 13,000 borrowers have already benefited from the resources provided under the Inflation Reduction Act as follows:

  • Approximately 11,000 delinquent direct and guaranteed borrowers had their accounts brought current. USDA also paid the next scheduled annual installment for these direct loan borrowers giving them peace of mind in the near term.
  • Approximately 2,100 borrowers who had their farms foreclosed on and still had remaining debt have had this debt resolved in order to cease debt collections and garnishment relieving that burden that has made getting a fresh start more difficult.

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

  • USDA will administer $66 million in separate automatic payments, using COVID-19 pandemic relief funds, to support up to 7,000 direct loan borrowers who used FSA’s disaster-set-aside option during the pandemic to move their scheduled payments to the end of their loans.
  • USDA is also initiating two case-by-case processes to provide additional assistance to farm loan borrowers. Under the first new process, FSA will review and assist with delinquencies from 1,600 complex cases, including cases in which borrowers are facing bankruptcy or foreclosure. The second new process will add a new option using existing direct loan servicing criteria to intervene more quickly and help an estimated 14,000 financially distressed borrowers who request assistance to avoid even becoming delinquent.

More details on each of the categories of assistance, including a downloadable fact sheet, are available on the Inflation Reduction Act webpage on farmers.gov.

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

The National Association of Counties (NACo) wrote the following analysis on the announcement:

Direct loan borrowers will receive an average of $52,000 in debt relief, while borrowers whose loans have been referred to the Treasury Department will receive an average of $101,000 in relief. For borrowers receiving loans through the guaranteed loan program, the average relief is $172,000. USDA has also announced that it will release another $500 million in payments for farmers at risk of bankruptcy or foreclosure in the coming months.

Read NACo’s analysis of the USDA announcement.
Learn more in the USDA’s press release.

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