Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Credit for Farmers: A policy update

JenTo follow up on yesterday's post about the farm policy issues that Farm Aid has been working on this year, today we take a look at the progress that's been made to make sure that farmers have access to the credit they need to plant the seeds that will feed us all.

Available and affordable credit is essential for farmers, who have to front the money to plant their crops months before they reap the financial benefit at harvest. Since the beginning of 2009, Farm Aid has worked with partners like National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) and Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI) to ensure that farmers have access to the credit they need to grow our food. Two weeks ago, the USDA announced relief to farmers and rural agriculture businesses in the form of more loan money available to farmers and more opportunities for debt restructuring.

Farmers can apply for direct operating loans of up to $300,000 at 3.125% and direct farm ownership loans up to $300,000 at 5%. Direct operating loans can be used for farm related expenses, including refinancing debt, while farm ownership loans can be used to purchase or improve farm property. As for loan restructuring, Farm Service Agency (FSA) borrowers are encouraged to contact their local FSA loan officer to receive individual financial and farm planning counsel.

In our meetings with the Secretary of Agriculture, he let us know that he'd like to hear from us about what we're hearing from farmers in the field so we'd like to hear from anyone who has either applied for these loans or attempted to restructure their debt with FSA. Please email us at FarmHelp@farmaid.org to let us know about your experience.

Tomorrow we'll take a look at the dairy crisis and how dairy farmers are faring.

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