Debt Relief Initiative Benefiting Hundreds of California Farmers


The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Debt Relief Initiative will provide assistance to many socially disadvantaged farmers in California. USDA Assistant Secretary for Administration Osker Gonzales spoke to AgNet West about some of the details of the program. The initiative is expected to provide assistance to hundreds of California farmers. Gonzales said the debt relief program is especially important for California because agriculture is a main pillar of the state’s economy.

“The USDA currently estimates that approximately 14,000 borrowers across the country meet the socially disadvantaged definition,” Gonzales explained. “Here in California, the number I was looking at earlier in terms of individual borrowers who might be eligible was around 400 here in California alone. These would be borrowers who have taken out loans that are direct loans. “

The Qualified Debt Relief Initiative will process loan balances based on what was recorded on January 1, 2021. All payments made by borrowers since that date will be fully refunded. “The 120% of the payment they will receive if they are actually eligible represents the total cost of the loan to be included 100% in the loan balance. The 20 percent repayment is available for tax debts and other fees associated with paying the debt, ”Gonzales said.

The USDA has already started sending notices to eligible borrowers involved in the direct lending program. Gonzales noted that some farmers who received notices were unsure of how the debt relief initiative would work. USDA will continue to engage in outreach efforts to help borrowers fully understand the program.

“I understand that additional information will be sent in different languages,” Gonzales explained. “We envision between June and December 31, when loan repayments will be made on an ongoing basis.”

Listen to the interview below.

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