New USDA Loan Policy = Good News for AL Farmers

Dec 28, 2016

Cattle rancher David Bailey in a drought-stricken field in northeast Alabama
Credit Kevin D. Liles / WSJ

Farmers in Alabama who have been affected by the extreme drought conditions gripping the Southeast are getting some good news from the federal government.

An unusual budget provision passed by Congress earlier this month means no one who qualifies for a government farm loan in the next four months will be denied.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran is a Kansas Republican who chairs an agricultural appropriations panel. He says the provision allows the Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency authority to meet the spike in loan demand by using future funding.

There is no limit to how much the USDA can lend through April 28. It's considered a victory for farm groups who pressed Washington to avert a looming loan crisis.

That potential crisis is due to widespread downturn in the agricultural economy. Farmers in Alabama as well as Georgia and the Carolinas have been hit hard by extreme drought as well as flooding. Meanwhile, Midwestern states are reeling from a glut in global grain markets that is slashing crop prices worldwide.