Vilsack: Growing opportunity by expanding access to credit

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Today, USDA remains focused on working with Congress to secure a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. A comprehensive Farm Bill will allow USDA to carry on our record efforts to support agriculture, conservation, trade, research and rural development efforts – and it will provide needed support and certainty for folks in rural America.

USDA’s credit programs provide a very good example of the positive impact a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would have for our nation.

Through programs authorized under the current Farm Bill, USDA provides access to credit that helps farmers to buy or expand an operation, helps businesses to grow and hire more, helps rural families looking for a good place to live and helps build up rural communities.

Since 2009, USDA has provided more than 134,000 farm loans to help farmers and ranchers grow or expand an operation – a record effort during a tough time for many producers to get a loan.

We’ve provided record credit to help more than 620,000 rural families buy or refinance a home. Credit programs have helped provide assistance for nearly 60,000 rural businesses, from main street shops to cutting-edge new biorefineries. And these programs have helped USDA implement nearly 8,000 critical projects to improve quality of life in rural communities.

We’re always looking to do more. This week, for example, I announced a new effort under USDA’s farm loan program to provide new “microloans” to our producers. The program makes the lending process easier for those who need a small loan of up to $35,000. This effort promises new opportunity for everyone from a small-scale grower selling to local markets, to a returned veteran who’s looking to start a new career on the farm.

These credit programs don’t just benefit the recipients – they strengthen rural America’s capacity to provide all of us with things we depend on every day. USDA loans provide certainty to those who give us an abundant and affordable food supply, clean and renewable energy, and products that are made here at home by U.S. businesses. Access to credit helps provide economic benefits that support hundreds of thousands of jobs in housing, manufacturing and more.

USDA relies on Farm Bill programs to keep up this record level of work. While Congress has extended current Farm Bill programs for nine months, many folks across the country rely on the certainty of multi-year credit programs that would be provided through a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.

This is just one more reason why President Obama and I will continue our work with Congress to secure passage of a comprehensive, multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible.



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