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N.D. to Perdue: Loans Essential to Provide Access to Credit
North Dakota Ag Connection - 01/11/2019

Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, this week spoke with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to outline the importance of continuing essential USDA loan programs while negotiations continue to reach agreement on funding the government and border security.

The senator also met with North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goerhing to discuss the issue and work to mitigate impacts on the state's farmers and ranchers during the partial government shutdown.

"With the closure of FSA county and state offices, there is concern that producers will not have access to important loan programs that provide them with the necessary cashflow to operate," said Hoeven. "I spoke with USDA Secretary Perdue to request that USDA work with OMB to deem these loan programs essential and ensure that these loans are processed for our producers."

"The government shutdown is impacting some of our North Dakota producers," North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. "Farmers and ranchers are critical to food security and food supply across the globe and access to services provided by USDA are essential."

"I am grateful to Secretary Perdue for taking time to discuss topics of importance to our farmers and ranchers," Goehring said. "I thanked him for extending the deadline for agricultural producers to apply for payments under the Market Facilitation Program, as farmers have been unable to apply during the shutdown."

Goehring said some other topics of discussion with Secretary Perdue were:

- Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) loans

- Farm Service Agency liens on commodities from the sale of livestock and grain

- The importance of the United States Department of Agriculture's National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) and the reports that provide timely information about exports and stocks

- Implementation of the Farm Bill, including industrial hemp

- Workforce development and farm labor

- The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and farm inspections

- The importance of ratifying the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)

"Even with some of the USDA staff currently out, Secretary Perdue assured me that undersecretaries and key staff are putting together a framework for implementation of the Farm Bill," Goehring said. "When staff are back in, they will get the technical pieces put together to complete implementation."

Goehring also met with Senator Kevin Cramer and Congressman Kelly Armstrong.

"I thank our congressional delegation for their assistance on these priorities," Goehring said. "They've been working diligently on these issues and I appreciate all that they've done."

USDA provides loans through both the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Commodity Credit Cooperation (CCC). The CCC is meant to provide stability in farm income and prices, and enables farmers to utilize Marketing Assistance Loans (MAL), a critical loan program which provides farmers with the temporary funds to hold their products off the market until prices improve. FSA provides both Guaranteed and Direct Farm Operating and Ownership loans to provide producers with access to credit.

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