Science

Farmers to get $3.1 billion in USDA debt relief from Biden

The federal government announced a program Tuesday that would provide billions of dollars in debt relief for nearly 36,000 farmers who have fallen behind on loan payments or are facing foreclosure.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an agricultural debt relief program funded by the $3.1 billion in Inflation Reduction Act allocated to help distressed borrowers of direct or guaranteed loans administered by the USDA. The law was passed by Congress earlier this year and signed by President Biden in August.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “Without no fault, our country’s farmers and ranchers have faced incredibly difficult conditions over the years.” “The funds included in today’s announcement help our farmers farm and provide a fresh start for growers in a challenging situation.”

About 11,000 agricultural borrowers who are delinquent on direct or guaranteed loan payments for 60 days or more are receiving automatic electronic payments to get current on their loans. Each farmer with direct loans received about $52,000 and those with guaranteed loans received about $172,000. The total cost of this group is approximately $600 million.

Vilsack said farmers who have received this assistance will receive a letter informing them that their payments have been made and will continue until their next annual payment is made in 2023.

Another $200 million has been used to help 2,100 agricultural borrowers immediately after closing their loans but who still have money owed and their tax refunds and other resources taken. The USDA said farmers in this category received an average of $101,000.

Another $571 million will be used to help:

  • 7,000 farmers who delayed payment of their loans during this period coronavirus pandemic,
  • 1,600 farmers facing bankruptcy or foreclosure will be assisted on a case-by-case basis with in-person meetings to assess their problem and find a solution at a cost of $330 million.
  • 14,000 financially distressed agricultural borrowers facing cash flow problems who seek help to avoid default on loan payments will get additional assistance.

The funds announced Tuesday are the first round of payments designed to help farmers stay in business or re-enter farming.

Mr. Biden’s farm fund scheme has been a major concern for farmers of color, many of whom were promised targeted debt relief and will be Now get lumped in payment with all farmers,

The Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act, which was passed last year along with the 2021 US rescue plan, called for $4 billion in loan waivers to farmers of color, In addition to providing aid to black growers who have struggled during the pandemic, the emergency funding would have marked the first step in fixing decades of discrimination that some farmers say they have faced at the hands of the USDA.

Yet the loan-forgiveness program was Removed from Inflation Reduction Act Before any dollars could reach the farmers. The law also removed words that specifically designed money for black farmers to wipe out their USDA debt.

Black farmers may still qualify for a significant portion of the assistance provided under the inflation bill, although it is unclear whether their applications will be put in by other applicants who are now eligible for relief.

concern for black farmers

John Boyd Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association, told CBS MoneyWatch that USDA debt relief would mean fewer black farmers would get forgiveness because they outnumber white farmers nationwide.


Black farmers face even greater challenges with new Inflation Reduction Act

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The USDA said the remaining $3.1 billion would be used to ease unnecessary debt restrictions and provide assistance to be announced later.

Farmers aided by the program have been found by the USDA to be distressed borrowers who are affected by more frequent, more intense, climate-driven natural disasters than pandemic-induced market disruptions, the USDA said. .

The USDA also provided $31 billion in 2021 and 2022 to help offset low sales, prices and other losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic to nearly one million farmers, the US Government Accountability Office has said.

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