Speaking at the Wisconsin Farmers Union annual convention, USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux says he would like to see changes to the federal farm loan system.
“I would like to see the Farm Service Agency be able to offer the best deal out of the gate and function less like a lending institution and more like a federal government initiative. The challenge that we have right now is that our loan officers for whatever reason, are often in a more conservative frame of mind than they need to be. And that conservative frame of mind actually puts the producers in a weaker position because we don’t extend the best terms that we can at the outset.”
Ducheneaux says USDA is working internally on several fronts to bring change.
“The message that I take out organizations like the Wisconsin Farmers Union, the stakeholder groups that I get to visit with, is we are going to try to change this to a culture of getting to yes, and the Secretary of Agriculture is now talking about using our loan servicing tools sooner rather than later and catching folks before they fall off the cliff. And really proud to be part of that and look forward to hearing from all of our producers in the countryside as we navigate through these times.”
For example, an FSA loan application is 29 pages.
“The team is working really hard on refining that, streamlining the process so that we can get to more timely decisions for our producers, and 29 pages is just frankly too much for anything. And that’s the short end. And it isn’t the fault of our county staff, so don’t beat them up when you talk about it, they’d rather have it be better too. It’s our job as leadership at the national level to do that. Our farm loan team has been working on that for years, now we’ve got the stars aligned to where we’re going to get there and start to streamline that and bring it down to around a 12 page application to start with.”