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Farmers to get USDA loan relief

Staff writer

Farmers having trouble repaying farm loans from the United States Department of Agriculture are getting help from the agency.

The department is suspending foreclosures, wage garnishments and foreclosure referrals for Farm Service Agency loans.

Robert Bonnie, deputy chief of staff for the USDA, said the agency is trying to curb debt rations so farmers maintain needed cash flow to earn living expenses and provide for emergency needs.

USDA has suspended collection of past-due debt and foreclosures under farm storage facility loans and direct farm loan programs of the Farm Service Agency because of COVID-19. The suspension is expected to last as long as a national COVID-19 disaster declaration is in place.

Deadlines to seek loan deferrals have been extended.

Lenders that participate in the Guaranteed Loan program have been given more flexibility to service their customers.

Todd Heitschmidt, president of Central National Bank, said the bank doesn’t have a large number of FSA loans through the Marion Branch.

“I’m only down to several loans out of my branch, and they’re guaranteed loans,” Heitschmidt said. “I have some customers with direct loans through FSA. At this point, I have not seen any problems yet.”

That could change, though.

“This is the time when we start getting our year-end information,” he said. “We might see something there, but as far as repayment ability, I haven’t seen any problems.”

Heitschmidt said in 2020 his farm and cattle producers did well on payments in comparison to previous years.

More than 12,000 borrowers nationwide are eligible for the relief.

Farmers are encouraged to contact their county office to discuss the temporary changes to farm loan deadlines and loan servicing options.

Last modified Feb. 4, 2021

 

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