USDA makes payments to underserved farmers |

USDA makes payments to underserved farmers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh announced today that USDA will begin to make long-promised payments to underserved farmers.Details may be found in a USDA news release. The money comes from the Inflation Reduction Act. An earlier version ran into political opposition.
“We commend USDA for moving expeditiously and with resolve to speed critical relief in the form of debt payments for at-risk producers and underserved farmers and ranchers facing financial distress. We regret that legal actions delayed and ultimately prevented implementation of previous efforts to provide debt relief, leaving many farmers and ranchers we serve with unsustainable debt and an uncertain path forward,” said Rural Coalition Chairperson John Zippert.“We are hopeful that the economically distressed underserved producers we serve will now receive the prompt and long-awaited support they need to stabilize their operations in the face of the pandemic and growing increases in cost of inputs and land. We appreciate that USDA has demonstrated its understanding of the compelling need to provide this assistance in a timely and effective manner,” Zippert added.
“All small farmers need this opportunity to reevaluate their financial situation and restructure their debts, especially to help them adapt in the face of these new and erratic climatic events,” said National Latino Farmers and Ranchers President Rudy Arredondo, who is also a Rural Coalition board member. “What else are they going to do to survive? They need the adjustments now available to survive and carry on their farming operations.”
“The USDA is to be commended for its integrity in moving forward with the promised relief for distressed borrowers in the IRA. The implementation is broad-based enough to correct the disequilibrium in the farm credit system and with prescriptive remedies moving forward. We hope that distressed farmers and their rural communities will at last experience a breath of relief,” said North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project Executive Director Savi Horne, who is also a Rural Coalition board member.Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose said, “Farm Credit welcomes the details shared by Secretary Vilsack today. As active partners with USDA on FSA guaranteed loans, Farm Credit lenders will work closely with USDA and FSA to ensure this debt relief provides the intended assistance to distressed borrowers.”Ricardo Salvador, senior scientist and director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said, “The Biden administration has made it a priority to address the history of injustices, discrimination and barriers in agriculture. Providing debt relief for at-risk producers and underserved farmers and ranchers facing financial distress in a timely manner is a key first step, and we commend USDA for its quick action.“More than 100,000 farmers and ranchers depend on direct or guaranteed USDA loans. Nearly a third of these farmers and ranchers are at significant risk of bankruptcy, foreclosure and loss of land or other assets due to the unfavorable economics of agriculture. This significant action from USDA ensures that these farmers can continue farming.“Previous efforts to get debt relief to distressed farmers have been stymied by legal action. The debt relief program included in the Inflation Reduction Act is a pragmatic approach to ensuring that those most in need of relief receive it quickly,” Salvador concluded.
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