U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made his annual and final appearance at the annual convention of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting in Kansas City last week and he spoke on a range of issues. Vilsack said current farmer debt-to-equity ratio is substantially lower than the Farm Crisis of the 1980s. About ten percent of the nation’s operations are highly leveraged.
Regarding the nation’s farm credit system, he said support will be there for farmers who need it.
“I can tell you that as of my briefing our great folks at FSA have done 3,859 loans since the beginning of the fiscal year which started October 1st. That’s about $560 million that’s been extended in credit either through guarantees or direct loans. That has been funding through a continuing resolution which Congress passed. That of course expires on December 9th. One would expect that when Congress returns (this) week they would begin working on and hopefully accomplish in relatively short order, an overall budget.”
Vilsack says the safety net in place for the nation’s farmers is in good shape.
“Our safety net for farmers remains strong,” he said. “We just revised the estimate of what we expect payments to be. We had been working off the President’s budget in making an estimate of about $7 billion in payments. Again our good folks at FSA are probably going to funnel through about $8.5 billion in payments under the ARC and PLC program. Obviously that’s going to be helpful at this time of year.”
Sign up for the safety net is already underway and Vilsack reminded farmers that it goes until August of 2017. The safety net paid out $11 million to dairy operators struggling with low prices, but he said it could have been a bigger payout. And the secretary added he’ll be leaving the USDA in better shape than it was when he first took the job eight years ago.
Source: NAFB News