As drought continues across America, President Obama and I continue doing all we can to help producers. In addition to the actions we’ve already taken, we will continue to call on Congress to pass a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that gives USDA more tools to help, while providing more certainty for our producers.
Throughout this disaster, USDA has worked hard to offer emergency access to credit for farmers and ranchers.
In the early days of the drought, USDA acted to lower the interest rate for FSA Emergency Loans from 3.75 percent to 2.25 percent. This week, USDA announced that we will modify emergency loans by allowing loans to be made earlier in the season – helping livestock producers to offset increased feed costs, as well as those who have liquidated herds.
In addition we’ve continued working with the Small Business Administration and the National Credit Union Administration to further increase emergency lending in drought-stricken areas.
But the importance of access to credit in rural America goes well beyond the current drought. Under President Obama, USDA has made access to credit a priority for producers, for rural businesses, and for families – and we have achieved a record amount of accomplishments.
Since 2009, USDA has made or guaranteed a record number of loans for farmers and ranchers – more than $1.8 billion in loans for nearly 130,000 producers.
USDA has made a record level of loans, along with grants, to help nearly 58,000 rural small businesses grow, creating or saving hundreds of thousands of jobs in rural areas.
We’ve provided loans and loan guarantees for more than 520,000 families to buy or refinance a home, to ensure that Americans who are working hard and playing by the rules have a chance to achieve the dream of homeownership.
And USDA lending is helping to develop a strong biobased economy in America. This August alone, USDA added two new loan guarantee efforts to help build advanced biofuel plants in Nevada and North Carolina that will continue our work to make America more energy secure, while bringing hundreds of new jobs to those states.
We’re proud of these results, but we can keep building on our success. We can help more producers get a loan to buy or improve a farm. We can help small business owners expand their operations. We can do more to grow the biobased economy.
By giving folks in rural areas more tools to succeed, USDA will continue to create good-paying jobs in rural America while helping strengthen our nation’s economy as a whole.