USDA, U.S. Attorney’s Office to stop foreclosures, evictions

Vincent Marshall
Dodge City Daily Globe

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the temporary suspension of past-due debt collections and foreclosures for distressed borrowers due to COVID-19.

The suspension is under the Farm Storage Facility Loan and the Direct Farm Loan programs administered by the Farm Service Agency and suspends non-judicial foreclosures, debt offsets or wage garnishments and referring foreclosures to the Department of Justice, according to the USDA.

To stop judicial foreclosures and evictions on accounts that were previously referred to the Department of Justice, the USDA will work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and will extend deadlines for producers to respond to loan servicing actions.

The loan servicing actions will include loan deferral consideration for financially distressed and delinquent borrowers and for the Guaranteed Loan program, there will be flexibility available to lenders.

“USDA and the Biden Administration are committed to bringing relief and support to farmers, ranchers and producers of all backgrounds and financial status, including by ensuring producers have access to temporary debt relief,” said Office of the Secretary Deputy Chief of Staff Robert Bonnie. “Not only is USDA suspending the pipeline of adverse actions that can lead to foreclosure and debt collection, we are also working with the Departments of Justice and Treasury to suspend any actions already referred to the applicable Agency. "Additionally, we are evaluating ways to improve and address farm-related debt with the intent to keep farmers on their farms earning living expenses, providing for emergency needs, and maintaining cash flow.”

The Farm Service Agency will provide several different loans for producers falling under two main categories:

Guaranteed loans are made and serviced by commercial lenders, such as banks, the Farm Credit System, credit unions and other non-traditional lenders. FSA guarantees the lender’s loan against loss, up to 95%.

Direct loans are made and serviced by FSA using funds from the federal government.

According to the FSA, the most common loan types are Farm Ownership, Farm Operating and Farm Storage Facility Loans, with microloans for each:

Farm Ownership: Helps producers purchase or enlarge a farm or ranch, construct a new or improve an existing farm or ranch building, pay closing costs and pay for soil and water conservation and protection.

Farm Operating: Helps producers purchase livestock and equipment and pay for minor real estate repairs and annual operating expenses.

Farm Storage Facility Loans are made directly to producers for the construction of cold or dry storage and includes handling equipment and mobile storage such as refrigerated trucks.

Microloans: Direct Farm Ownership, Operating Loans and Farm Storage Facility Loans have a shortened application process and reduced paperwork designed to meet the needs of smaller, non-traditional and niche-type operations.

To contact the writer email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com