All You Need To Know About Farm Operating Loans(Direct and Guaranteed)

Many times, ranchers and farmers cannot acquire commercial credits from the Farm Credit System institutions, banks, or lenders for that matter. In such cases, they can opt for a farm operating loan that is offered by the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA). It makes direct and guaranteed farm ownership and operating loans to farmers and ranchers who cannot obtain commercial credit from the banks, or other lenders.

When borrowers are unable to repay their loans, FSA resolves the delinquency, using various tools like debt forgiving. According to the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, FSA cannot make loans to borrowers who have had debts forgiven previously.

Program Description

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides farm-operating loans to ranchers and farmers who are unable to obtain commercial, private credit for the time being. Operating loans may be used for purchasing items required for successful farm operations. The items could consist of farm equipment, livestock, seed, feed, farm chemicals, fuel, insurance, repairs, and various other operating expenses.

Both direct loans and guaranteed loans are available through the program. Eligibility for each type of loan depends on applicant qualifications. According to the terms of the guaranteed loan program, the FSA guarantees loan made by a standard agricultural lenders for about 95% of the principal loan amount.

People who have not been able to qualify for guaranteed loans can qualify for a direct loan. Other than servicing and making the direct loans, the FSA officials also provide credit counseling and supervision to borrowers. For this they should be able to justify their ability to repay as well as offer assurance for securing the loan fully. Borrowers can take a direct farm-operating loan up to $ 200,000.

Eligibility criterion for obtaining a farm operating loan (OL) from the Farm Service Agency (FSA)

. Should be a permanent resident or a US citizen
. Should not have a history of delinquency on any Federal debt
. Should not be responsible for loss to the Government because of a previous forgiven Federal debt
. Should have a good history of repaying debts
. Should not be included in any convictions related to controlled substance
. Should be the operator of any “family-sized farm” after loan closure
. Should not have any outstanding judgments
. Should not be able to obtain credit elsewhere
. Applicants should have sufficient money for the loan repayments and ample collateral for securing it fully. The additional eligibility criterion is also applicable and can be retrieved by contacting FSA or visiting the Farm Service Agency website directly.

Loan Terms

The duration for loan repayments for both guaranteed and direct farm operating loans cannot go beyond 7 years. While loans for livestock and equipment purchases are programmed for repayment for long periods, but cannot go over 7 years, loans for annual operating expenses are usually settled up within a year. Direct operating loan interest rates are finalized on the basis of the Government’s cost of funds. In certain circumstances, FSA can offer 4% interest rate to farmers who are unable to pay for the lender’s standard rate of interest. For almost all guaranteed loans, FSA levies an origination fee up to one percent of the guarantee.

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