President Barrack Obama last week signed legislation that is designed to help more farmers and ranchers restructure their loans versus being forced into foreclosure. According to Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who introduced amendments to the “Helping Families Save Their Homes Act,” this new action will require government agencies to make sure that banks use their TARP funds to help farmers in need of financial assistance.
"Now that this bill has become law, the panel that oversees the bank bailout will take a close look at ways to help ranchers and farmers facing foreclosure to restructure their loans and stay in their homes," Feingol said. "Since the government is going to help lending institutions with bailouts, I believe that these institutions should do what they can to help keep all Americans in their homes."
In March, Feingold and New York Sen. Kristen Gillibrand led a group of colleagues asking USDA and the Treasury Department to require TARP recipients to implement a foreclosure-mitigation program that includes farm-loan restructuring, similar to the one in place for homes. Many farm loans include a home as part of the loan or as security against the loan, so extending this provision to farmers and ranchers would help save farms and homes from foreclosure, Fiengold contends.
The two senators also received a commitment from Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd to work to bring USDA and Treasury face-to-face with farm groups so the two agencies have a better understanding of the growing concern among farmers and ranchers.