Hoeven Outlines Efforts to Ensure Farmers' Access to Credit, Support Ag Economy Until Conditions Improve

Senator Increased FSA Loan Limits in 2018 Farm Bill, Fully Funded Loan Programs in Annual Appropriations Bills

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today addressed the Farm Credit Council Board of Directors and outlined his efforts to ensure agriculture producers have adequate access to credit and support the farm economy through unprecedented challenges in recent years, until the nation returns to stable production conditions where farmers and ranchers can sell their products at fair market rates. Accordingly, as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Hoeven has:

  • Secured more than $23.5 billion in agriculture assistance under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) 1 and 2, as well as nearly $13 billion for agriculture producers in the COVID-19 relief legislation passed by Congress earlier this week.

o   Hoeven has met repeatedly with local producers, commodity groups andHoeven has met repeatedly with local producers, commodity groups and Farm Service Agency (FSA) officials to facilitate feedback to the administration to ensure the CFAP assistance is delivered as effectively as possible.

  • Worked to ensure Farm Credit lenders and their farmer and rancher customers are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
    • Following the establishment of the PPP, Hoeven worked with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and members of the Senate Small Business Committee to ensure that agriculture producers and farm credit providers were able to effectively utilize the program. Further, the senator pressed SBA to resolve issues with its online PPP portal that had prevented farmers from applying.
  • Increased funding for FSA farm direct, guaranteed and emergency loans in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 appropriations legislation to help meet farmers and ranchers’ expected need for capital. 
    • Hoeven secured higher limits for the FSA’s loan programs in the 2018 Farm Bill, consistent with his Capital for Farmers and Ranchers Act.
    • FSA implemented the limit increases last year.

“Farm lenders play a critical role in the agriculture economy, and between the increased limits and funding for FSA loans and the additional agriculture assistance we’ve secured, we’re working to give farmers and ranchers the tools they need to weather the current struggles until conditions improve,” said Hoeven. “That means producers can get back to selling their products at market prices, removing the need for temporary relief.”

Securing Additional Agriculture Assistance

As chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, Hoeven successfully included nearly $13 billion of agriculture assistance in the COVID-19 relief legislation passed by Congress earlier this week. At the same time, Hoeven worked to target the relief as effectively as possible. The legislation reallocates $550 billion in unspent dollars from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and only provides $350 billion in new spending, as opposed to the House’s $3.4 trillion HEROES Act.

Specifically, the additional agriculture relief includes:

  • Support for producers of non-specialty crops by providing a payment of $20/acre. North Dakota producers are estimated to receive upwards of $360 million.
  • An inventory top-up payment for cattle producers to more closely align payment rates under CFAP 1 and CFAP 2.
  • Funding for a grant program to allow small meat processors to make improvements to become federally inspected.
  • Support for producers forced to depopulate livestock due to insufficient processing capacity.   

Hoeven also worked to include a provision to establish a livestock statutory dealer trust to ensure unpaid sellers of livestock are given priority in collecting receivables in the event of a dealer default. Hoeven is a cosponsor of standalone legislation to establish a livestock dealer trust.

Improving Producers’ Access to Credit

Hoeven previously authored his Capital for Farmers and Ranchers Act to ensure the maximum amounts under FSA’s Direct and Guaranteed Farm Operating and Farm Ownership Loans grant producers the flexibility they need to operate when revenue is limited, for instance, when facing low commodity prices or natural disasters. Hoeven included a version of his bill in the 2018 Farm Bill through his role on the Senate-House conference committee and then worked with the FSA to implement the increased limits for:

  • Guaranteed Operation and Ownership Loans from $1.399 million to $1.75 million.
  • Direct Operating Loans from $300,000 to $400,000.
  • Direct Ownership Loans from $300,000 to $600,000.