The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency has expanded its payment options accepting debit cards and Automated Clearing House debit.
According to the USDA, the paperless payment options will enable FSA customers to pay farm loan payments, measurement service fees, farm program debt repayments and administrative service fees, as well as purchase aerial maps.
"Our customers have spoken, and we’ve listened," said USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey in a news release. "Finding ways to improve customer service and efficiency is important for our farmers, ranchers, producers, and forest landowners who work hard for our nation every day.
"Now, our customers can make electronic payments instantly by stopping in our offices or calling over the phone."
Transactions will be securely processed from the customer’s financial institution through Pay.gov, the U.S. Treasury’s online payment hub, by using debit cards and ACH debit.
Traditional collection methods such as cash and paper checks will still continue.
The average cost to manually process checks, a process that included navigating multiple systems, cost USDA more than $4.6 million in 2017.
With the addition of debit cards and ACH debit, the time for an employee to process a payment will be cut by 75 percent.
"At USDA, we’re focused on modernization to improve customer service," said Northey. "If half of our customers use these new payment options, we’ll see a $1 million savings in one year.
"These new payment methods are one part of a much larger effort to expand options for our customers, as well as to make our services more effective and efficient."
The new payment option for USDA customers is part of a multi-phased roll-out.
The use of debit cards and ACH debit payments can be used to make payments for all FSA programs, that include farm loan facility fees, farm storage facility loan repayments, Dairy Margin Coverage, administrative fees, marketing assistance, loan repayments and premiums and Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance program fees.
For more information, contact the local FSA county office or visit farmers.gov.
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