RELEASE: Young Farmers commends USDA for assisting economically distressed farmers in staying on the land


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:​ Jessica Manly, Communications Director, National Young Farmers Coalition
press@youngfarmers.org, 518-643-3564 ext. 722

Washington, D.C. (October 19, 2022) On October 18, 2022, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the phased implementation of $3.1 billion in critical debt relief for distressed borrowers whose agricultural operations are at financial risk, which was enacted in August through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). USDA also announced that distressed borrowers have already received $800 million of this relief. 

“Though we inherited a farm safety net and lending practices that are structurally designed to leave many behind, these actions will enable farmers to continue farming, stay on the land, and feed our communities. USDA, with authority from Congress, remains uniquely positioned to reshape and transform the Agency towards serving all farmers better, especially those hurt before,” said Vanessa Garcia Polanco, Policy Campaigns Co-Director at the National Young Farmers Coalition

USDA has also initiated additional case-by-case processes to assist in complex cases, including for borrowers facing bankruptcy or foreclosure, and to use existing loan servicing criteria to work with financially distressed borrowers to avoid delinquency. Farmers must apply for these processes by reaching out to their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office or by contacting USDA National Headquarters. 

As USDA ARPTA Cooperators, the National Young Farmers Coalition stands ready to help farmers access the relief USDA has made available to support young farmers staying on the land, fighting climate change, and feeding our communities. 

“The past couple of years, we’ve had to choose between making payments on our FSA loans or having capital to start up the farm season,” said Shakera Rygoza of Terra Farms in Texas. “Our farm is still working to overcome challenges due to the pandemic and climate disasters. This debt relief is going to help us maintain our farmland, keep our employees, and invest in more efficient farm equipment. The news of swift relief allows me to breathe a little easier, but I’m trying not to get too excited until I see my balances cleared.”

The IRA as enacted also provides $2.2 billion in financial relief for farmers and ranchers deemed to have experienced discrimination by USDA’s farm lending programs. The USDA is requesting input on implementation as expressed in the Request for Public Comment on Providing Financial Assistance for Producers and Landowners Determined To Have Experienced Discrimination. Comments are due November 14th, 2022. 

“Impacts still exist from repeated, intergenerational dispossession of people from the land. I recognize these intentional steps toward eliminating barriers as positively contributing to land retention, and as a step toward rebuilding trust with communities historically under-resourced and discriminated against by the USDA,” said Tamisha Singletary, Policy Coordinator at Young Farmers. 

If you would like more information about FSA loan programs, or have experienced discrimination in accessing USDA resources, please reach out to ebonee@youngfarmers.org or shakera@youngfarmers.org.

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