The U.S. Department of Agriculture is looking for other funding sources for the Operating Loan Program that helps farmers. The $2.65 billion allocated for the program has already run out, as requests for federal financial assistance grow amid the worst agricultural downturn in more than a decade. USDA is seeking additional funding to “help bridge the gap in farm operating loans as much as possible” until additional funds are available. Last month, the Farm Service Agency suggested funding for this fiscal year would be depleted before the program restarts in October. Loans in the program are considered a “last resort” for farmers, but, as the rural sector struggles with low commodity prices and mounting trade competition, farmers are increasingly relying on the FSA for loan assistance. Without the financial support, some farmers may struggle to survive until the next cash injection in the fall.
Last month, the FSA told Congress it was tapping into $500 million in emergency funding to bolster a related program, the Guaranteed Farm Ownership Loan Program. However, emergency funding options do not exist for the agency’s Operating Loan Program. Currently, FSA loans are funding more than 113,000 borrowers, totaling nearly $23 billion.
Source: NAFB News Service