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USDA TO BEGIN LOAN PAYMENTS TO SOCIALLY DISADVANTAGED BORROWERS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency today published the first notice of funding availability announcing loan payments for eligible borrowers with qualifying direct farm loans under the American Rescue Plan Act Section 1005.

The official NOFA will be published in the Federal Register early next week and USDA expects payments to begin in early June and continue on a rolling basis.

A subsequent notice addressing guaranteed loan balances and direct loans that no longer have collateral and have been previously referred to the Department of Treasury for debt collection for offset, will be published within 120 days.

“The American Rescue Plan has made it possible for USDA to deliver historic debt relief to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers beginning in June,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Qualifying loans as part of today’s announcement are certain direct loans under the Farm Loan Programs and Farm Storage Facility Loan Program.

For much of the history of the USDA, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers have faced discrimination-sometimes overt and sometimes through deeply embedded rules and policies-that have prevented them from achieving as much as their counterparts who do not face these documented acts of discrimination.

Over the past 30 years, several major civil rights lawsuits have compensated farmers for specific acts of discrimination-including Pigford I and Pigford II, Keepseagle, and the Garcia cases.

Section 1006 of ARPA provides additional funding to begin long-term racial equity work within USDA, including to address heirs property claims and to stand up an Equity Commission to identify barriers to access USDA programming.

To learn more about the loan payments to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, visit www.farmers.gov/americanrescueplan

In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America.

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