Apr 3, 2019USDA’s farmers.gov adds farm loan, H2A visa features
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced April 3 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched two new features on farmers.gov. The goal of the new features is to help customers manage their farm loans and navigate the application process for H2A visas.
“Customer service is our top priority at USDA and these new features will help our customers as they manage their farm loans and navigate the H-2A temporary agricultural visa program,” said Secretary Sonny Perdue. “In my travels across the country, I have consistently heard people express a desire for greater use of technology in the way we deliver programs at USDA.
“As we adopt new technology, we are introducing simple yet innovative approaches to support our farmers, ranchers, producers and foresters as they support the nation every day. It’s my goal to make USDA the most effective, most efficient, most customer-focused department in the entire federal government and farmers.gov is a big step in that direction.”
Secretary Perdue unveiled the farmers.gov website in 2018 as a mobile-friendly public site that’s combined with an authenticated portal where customers can apply for programs, process transactions and manage accounts.
Navigating the H-2A visa process
Focused on education and smaller owner-operators, this farmers.gov H-2A Phase I release includes an H-2A Visa Program page and interactive checklist tool, with application requirements, fees, forms and a timeline built around a farmer’s hiring needs.
The H-2A Visa Program — also known as the temporary agricultural workers program — helps American farmers fill employment gaps by hiring workers from other countries. The U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Department of State, and state workforce agencies each manage parts of the H-2A Visa Program independently, with separate websites and complex business applications.
Over the next several months, USDA will collaborate further with the U.S. Department of Labor on farmers.gov H-2A Phase II — a streamlined H-2A Visa Program application form, regulations and digital application process that moves producers seamlessly from farmers.gov website to farmers.gov portal to U.S. Department of Labor’s IT systems.
Managing farm loans online
The self-service website now enables agricultural producers to login to view loan information, history and payments.
Customers can access the “My Financial Information” feature by desktop computer, tablet or phone. They can now view:
- Loan information
- Interest payments for the current calendar year (including year-to-date interest paid for the past five years)
- Loan advance and payment history
- Paid-in-full and restructured loans
- Account alerts giving borrowers important notifications regarding their loans
To access their information, producers will need a USDA eAuth account. After obtaining an eAuth account, producers should visit farmers.gov and sign into the site’s authenticated portal via the “Sign In / Sign Up” link at the top right of the website.
Currently, only producers doing business as individuals can view information. Entities, such as an LLC or Trust, or producers doing business on behalf of another customer cannot access the portal at this time, but access is being planned.
Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Edge are the recommended browsers to access the feature.