USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) today indicated that its county offices will be open by phone appointment only until further notice. “While our program delivery staff will continue to come into to the office, they will be working with our agricultural producers by phone and using email and online tools whenever possible,” the related press release detailed.
The agency also announced it will relax the loan-making process and add flexibilities for servicing direct and guaranteed loans. This includes:
- Extending the deadline for applicants to complete farm loan applications;
- Preparing Direct Loans documents even if FSA is unable to complete lien and record searches because of closed government buildings. Once those searches are complete, FSA would close the loan; and
- Closing loans if the required lien position on the primary security is perfected, even for loans that require additional security and those lien searches, filings and recordings cannot be obtained because of closed government buildings.
FSA also says it will extend deadlines for producers to respond to loan servicing actions, including loan deferral consideration for financially distressed and delinquent borrowers. “FSA will temporarily suspend loan accelerations, non-judicial foreclosures, and referring foreclosures to the Department of Justice. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will make the determination whether to stop foreclosures and evictions on accounts under its jurisdiction,” it details.
FSA also says that guarantee lenders can now self-certify, providing their borrowers with:
- Subsequent-year operating loan advances on lines of credit;
- Emergency advances on lines of credit.
FSA will consider guaranteed lender requests for:
- Temporary payment deferral consideration when borrowers do not have a feasible plan reflecting that family living expenses, operating expenses and debt can be repaid; and
- Temporary forbearance consideration for borrowers on loan liquidation and foreclosure actions.