FSA Loan Programs Improved
Access to credit under fair terms and reasonable rates continues to be an essential need for family farmers. Recent changes to USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) farm loan programs make FSA loans more useful for family farmers. There are three main changes. Each was made by the 2014 Farm Bill and are now being implemented in FSA regulations and handbooks.
First, FSA’s microloans are now available for up to $50,000. The old maximum was $35,000. For many years farmers have complained that paperwork requirements for FSA loans were too difficult to manage. The microloan program is useful for producers because relatively modest farm operating loans can be made with less difficulty for the borrower. This change will increase the usefulness of the microloan program. Read more about this in FLAG’s recent publication: Farmers’ Guide to the FSA Microloan Program.
Second, FSA Farm Ownership loans require that a borrower have three years of experience in a farming operation. Some borrowers have found this requirement hard to meet. The new rule allows for certain types of experience – such as training a farmer received in the military, or apprenticeships on a farm – to meet this requirement.
Third, FSA loan programs are only open to family farmers. In order to enforce this requirement, FSA has a number requirements regarding entities’ eligibility for a loan. Changes in the rules make some kinds of entities eligible for a farm loan that were not previously eligible. People who have certain kinds of legal arrangements in their farm operations will now be eligible for a loan who were not previously eligible.
The rules are effective now, and comments on the rules will be accepted by USDA through December 8, 2014.