Agricultural producers – if the federal agricultural loan process has you scratching your head, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says it’s working to help.
Recently, the USDA launched a new online tool designed to help farmers and ranchers better navigate the application process. One of the goals is for all agricultural loan applicants to get the same support and have a relatively consistent customer experience with the USDA Farm Service Agency. The USDA also says the new loan assistance tool should reduce the high rate of incomplete or withdrawn applications.
Once online at farmers.gov, producers can click on “Loans” and scroll down to the Farm Loan Tool. Producers will begin the process with a “start-up eligibility self-assessment” before moving on. The tool is designed to work on multiple internet browsers including Google Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari – not Internet Explorer – and the USDA claims the tool is fully functional on cellphones.
The USDA says further improvements will be made to the agricultural lending process next year:
*The direct loan application will be reduced from 29 pages to 13
*There will be an interactive online application providing customers with an electronic signature option as well as the ability to attach supporting documents
* There will also be a direct online loan repayment feature so that borrowers do not have to call, mail or visit an FSA service center to make payments.