Apr 7, 2020
Senators urge flexibility in Farm Service Agency loans, access to credit

A bipartisan letter signed by 43 U.S. Senators sent April 6 to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is urging permanent flexibility in Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans and equitable access to credit during this period of market uncertainty amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan)

The actions urged by the senators build off of legislation authored by Democratic Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, both of Michigan, in October 2019, which called on USDA to provide payment forbearance and a suspension of farm foreclosures — as a response to record farm debt levels and extreme weather experienced in around the Midwest and other parts of the U.S. 

 “We write to ask that you take action to ensure the continuity of our country’s food supply and support rural areas during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by providing needed relief to farmers — including by ensuring that the temporary flexibilities on farm loans recently announced by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) are made permanent for the duration of the pandemic and subsequent economic recovery, and also by ensuring adequate and equitable access to credit during this period of market uncertainty,” the Senators wrote.

“Americans always depend on our nation’s farmers to grow the food, fuel, and fiber that we all need, but that reliance becomes much more pronounced in times of crisis,” the Senators continued. “To provide additional support for those whose operations are being affected by the coronavirus, we urge you to consider making emergency measures such as deadline extensions, loan payment deferrals, payment forbearance, and a full suspension of all current and pending foreclosure actions effective for the duration of the pandemic and subsequent economic recovery … such measures are critical to avoiding disruption in the country’s food supply chain.”

Full text of the letter can be found by clicking here and belowThe letter also comes after the Senators voted to provide nearly $50 billion in support for agriculture and rural communities as part of the CARES Act last month.

In addition to Peters and Stabenow, Senators to sign the letter included, among others:

  • Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin)
  • Michael Bennet (D-Colorado)
  • Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota)
  • John Cornyn (R-Texas)
  • Steve Daines (R-Montana)
  • Cory Gardner (R-Colorado)
  • John Hoevern (R-North Dakota)
  • Angus King (I-Maine)
  • Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota)
  • Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon)
  • Patty Murray (D-Washington)
  • Tina Smith (D-Minnesota)
  • Jon Tester (R-Montana)
  • Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina)
  • Ron Wyden (D-Oregon)

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