USDA suspends foreclosures and debt collections on some farm loans

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A barn and silo in the winter, with snow on the ground.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is temporarily suspending foreclosures and past-due debt collections for two Farm Service Agency loan programs.

The relief is available for distressed borrowers under the Farm Storage Facility Loan and Direct Farm Loan programs.

More than 12,000 borrowers are eligible for relief, the USDA said. That’s about 10% of all borrowers.

USDA will temporarily suspend non-judicial foreclosures, debt offsets or wage garnishments, and stop referring foreclosures to the Department of Justice. The department will also work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to stop judicial foreclosures and evictions on accounts that were previously referred to the justice department.

Additionally, USDA extended deadlines for producers to respond to loan servicing actions. For the Guaranteed Loan program, flexibilities have been made available to lenders to help service their customers.

The temporary suspension is in place until further notice and is expected to continue while the national COVID-19 disaster declaration is in place.

Direct loans are made and serviced by the Farm Service Agency using federal funds. Guaranteed loans are made and serviced by commercial lenders, such as banks, the Farm Credit System, credit unions and other non-traditional lenders. FSA guarantees the lender’s loan against loss, up to 95%.

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