The Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has used $181 million in Recovery funds to clear a backlog of federal loan applications and provide assistance to minority and beginning farmers.
FSA initially received $173 million in Recovery funds for its Direct Operating Loans, which can be used to buy equipment, livestock, feed, seed, fertilizer, fuel, insurance coverage, or to make repairs to fences and buildings. The agency said that the $173 million was later increased by $8 million.
Prior to receiving the funds in February 2009, FSA had a backlog of 1,783 loan applications totaling $130 million. By the end of March 2009, the agency had processed the applications and awarded the loan amounts. FSA awarded the rest of the money in spring 2010. The agency says the average amount of a Direct Operating Loan is $50,000.
FSA anticipates that approximately 2,750 family farmers and ranchers who applied for a Direct Operating Loan will receive financial assistance as a result of the Recovery funds. More than half of the loans went to minority farmers and those just starting out, two groups that receive preferential consideration under federal law.
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