WASHINGTON (December 7, 2016) – As the 114th Congress works to pass a spending bill that would fund the government through April 2017, National Farmers Union (NFU) is pleased that the package considers the plight of the farm economy. The continuing resolution includes a provision to ensure that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) can keep up with the mounting demand for farm operating loans given the state of the farm economy.
“We applaud Congress for listening to the requests of family farmers and ranchers and providing funds in the continuing resolution for FSA to meet the record-demand for operating loans. Providing additional funding to FSA before the next fiscal year will help alleviate those producers waiting on direct operating loans and allow more applicants to access capital,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.
Earlier this year, FSA reached the funding cap for direct operating loans. NFU supported the agency’s decision to reprogram funds to assist more than 1,900 approved applicants awaiting FSA direct operating loans, but asked for additional solutions to aid struggling producers.
“Agriculture bankers have raised interest rates on farm loans and indicated continued decreases in loan repayment rates, and we’ve been concerned about the mounting financial stress for farm borrowers. As farmers and ranchers are burdened by the declining farm economy, access to low-interest operating credit is necessary to keep struggling producers in the business of feeding Americans,” Johnson explained.
A recently published study from the Kansas City Federal Reserve reported that more than 90 percent of bankers experienced deterioration in the level of working capital among borrowers in the crop sector, while nearly 30 percent reported a significant deterioration in working capital from a year ago.
“Declines in income are having a negative impact in the health of our nations farm and ranch families. We’re appreciative of the work of Senate Agriculture Appropriations Chairman Jerry Moran and other Congressional champions of agriculture that understand the urgency of providing assistance to rural America funding the FSA,” he concluded.