UCS Applauds USDA Debt Relief for 13,000 Distressed Farmers

Statement by Dr. Ricardo Salvador, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Oct 18, 2022

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that economically distressed farmers have received nearly $800 million in debt relief for qualifying USDA farm loans. The Inflation Reduction Act provides a total of $3.1 billion in assistance for distressed farm loan recipients. USDA will prioritize assistance to distressed borrowers who face the risk of losing their operations. As of today, 13,000 borrowers have received assistance.

Below is a statement by Dr. Ricardo Salvador, senior scientist and director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The Biden administration has made it a priority to address the history of injustices, discrimination and barriers in agriculture. Providing debt relief for at-risk producers and underserved farmers and ranchers facing financial distress in a timely manner is a key first step and we commend USDA for its quick action.

“More than 100,000 farmers and ranchers depend on direct or guaranteed USDA loans. Nearly a third of these farmers and ranchers are at significant risk of bankruptcy, foreclosure and loss of land or other assets due to the unfavorable economics of agriculture. This significant action from USDA ensures that these farmers can continue farming.

“Previous efforts to get debt relief to distressed farmers have been stymied by legal action. The debt relief program included in the Inflation Reduction Act is a pragmatic approach to ensuring that those most in need of relief receive it quickly.”