USDA to temporarily suspend past-due debt collection

iStock/Getty Images Note with words debt relief written on a tablet
Biden administration plans to keep the debt-relief measures in place until the COVID-19 emergency ends.

By Mike Dorning

The Biden administration will announce debt-relief measures Wednesday for more than 12,000 financially distressed farmers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will temporarily suspend past-due debt collections and foreclosures for farmers borrowing under two major loan programs administered by the Farm Service Agency, administration officials said. The measure is designed to help farmers hit by the coronavirus pandemic and economy’s slump with about 10% of borrowers qualifying.

“USDA and the Biden Administration are committed to bringing relief and support to farmers, ranchers and producers of all backgrounds and financial status, including by ensuring producers have access to temporary debt relief,” Robert Bonnie, the department’s deputy chief of staff, said in a statement.

The government is evaluating ways to improve and address borrowing to keep farmers “earning living expenses, providing for emergency needs and maintaining cash flow,” Bonnie said.

The USDA will temporarily suspend non-judicial foreclosures and wage garnishments and halt referring foreclosures to the Justice Department. The department will also seek to stop foreclosures and evictions already in progress. The administration plans to keep the debt-relief measures in place until the Covid-19 emergency ends, the officials said.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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