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Following push from Klobuchar, USDA suspends farm loan collections and foreclosures

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Hoeven (R-ND) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is suspending past-due debt collections and foreclosures for nearly 10 percent of all farmers borrowing under Farm Service Agency programs.

This announcement follows a letter Klobuchar and Hoeven sent with Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and a bipartisan group of 38 colleagues to the USDA in April of 2020 in which they called on the USDA to make emergency measures — including loan payment deferrals, payment forbearance, and a full suspension of all current and pending foreclosure actions – effective for the duration of the pandemic and subsequent economic recovery.

“The coronavirus pandemic has placed incredible financial burden on our farmers, and that is often felt most directly by those beginning farmers who are less established,” said Klobuchar. “This debt relief is a step forward in getting them the support they need, and I’m committed to continuing to fight on their behalf to ensure they can get through this tough time.”

“Throughout the pandemic, our nation’s farmers and ranchers have stepped up and continued to provide food, fuel, and fiber for our nation,”Hoeven said.

“We’ve worked to provide direct assistance to help our producers overcome losses due to disasters and the challenges of the pandemic, and these measures announced by USDA are another way of supporting our producers during these unprecedented times.”

In addition to stopping foreclosures in progress, the USDA will temporarily suspend wage garnishments and foreclosures that do not require court proceedings and halt referring foreclosures to the Justice Department until the end of the pandemic.

Klobuchar has been a leader in securing support for farmers and agriculture workers during the pandemic.

In January, she announced that growers who raised turkeys under a contract and experienced pandemic-related revenue losses could apply for payments through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. This announcement followed a letter she sent with Smith urging Senate leaders Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to consider including provisions to authorize programs and funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assist the domestic poultry industry in legislation addressing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In September, Klobuchar led a letter with Senators Tina Smith, Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) asking the USDA to clarify why farmers were denied access to critical relief and the data being used to determine eligibility for CFAP.

In December, Klobuchar successfully pushed for relief for livestock producers to be included in the bipartisan year-end agreement.

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