The U-S-D-A’s moratorium on Farm Service Agency farm foreclosures ended this past fall. U-S Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack instituted the moratorium last spring on loans that involved the F-S-A all across Nebraska and nationwide.
“That moratorium has expired, but we are now encouraging our Farm Service folks to reach out to producers who either have guaranteed loans or who have direct loans with us to figure out if there are ways in which those loans can be restructured, refinanced in a way that makes it more feasible and easier for those operations that have been stressed to continue in business,” Vilsack says.
One headache in the new year is farmers may find it more difficult to obtain operating loans. Vilsack met with the nation’s treasury secretary to talk about the issue.
“I have been meeting with Secretary Geithner and I think you’ve begun to see that there’s beginning to be a bit more pressure from the treasury department and from the president on banks to basically lend the money that they have,” Vilsack says. “The banks are not without resources. They actually have resources, but they are investing it in very conservative investments right now and I think they need to begin to loosen up the credit a little bit and I think we’ve brought to the attention of the treasury secretary the challenges that ag has.”
In the past year, pork and beef exports have been down, contributing to the livestock industry’s financial woes. Vilsack says he and other negotiators have made some headway with opening China to more U.S. pork, for example.
“You can restructure all you want and provide refinancing, but at the end of the day what’s going to make the difference is continuing to have healthy markets,” Vilsack says, “which is why we continue to reach out to some of our foreign friends, our trading friends to encourage them to reduce barriers, to eliminate barriers that are being constructed periodically.”
In late December, Vilsack met with Russia’s ag minister to discuss trade barriers the Russians are considering that might impede U.S. poultry and pork sales to Russia.