Online tool helps farmers find loans
A new online tool can help farmers and ranchers find information on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) farm loans that may best fit their operations. USDA has launched the new Farm Loan Discovery Tool as the newest feature on farmers.gov, the Department’s self-service website for farmers.
“Access to credit is critical in the agriculture industry, especially for new farmers,” said Bill Northey, Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “This new interactive tool can help farmers find information on USDA farm loans within minutes. We are working to improve our customer service, and part of our solution is through improving how farmers can work with us online.”
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers a variety of loan options to help farmers finance their operations. From buying land to financing the purchase of equipment, FSA loans can help. Compared to this time last year, FSA has seen an 18 percent increase in the amount it has obligated for direct farm ownership loans, and through the 2018 Farm Bill, has increased the limits for several loan products.
USDA conducted field research in eight states, gathering input from farmers and FSA farm loan staff to better understand their needs and challenges.
“We received suggestions from both farmers and our staff on how to improve the farm loan process, and we wanted to harness this opportunity to be more efficient and effective,” Northey said. “This feature is one step in our efforts.”
Currently, access is only available for customers doing business as individuals. Entities – such as an LLC or Trust – can’t access the portal at this time, but access is being planned.
How the tool works
Farmers who are looking for financing options to operate a farm or buy land can answer a few simple questions about what they are looking to fund and how much money they need to borrow. After submitting their answers, farmers will be provided information on farm loans that best fit their specific needs. The loan application and additional resources also will be provided.
Farmers can download application quick guides that outline what to expect from preparing an application to receiving a loan decision. There are four guides that cover loans to individuals, entities, and youth, as well as information on microloans. The guides include general eligibility requirements and a list of required forms and documentation for each type of loan. These guides can help farmers prepare before their first USDA service center visit with a loan officer.
Farmers can access the Farm Loan Discovery Tool by visiting https://bit.ly/2XXjhEn and clicking the “Start” button. Follow the prompts and answer five simple questions to receive loan information that is applicable to your agricultural operation. The tool is built to run on any modern browser like Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or the Safari browser, and is fully functional on mobile devices. It does not work in Internet Explorer.