USDA: Apply for farm loans online
The USDA recently launched an online application for direct loan customers. More than 26,000 customers who submit a direct loan application each year can now use an online, interactive, guided application that is paperless and provides helpful features including an electronic signature option, the ability to attach supporting documents such as tax returns, complete a balance sheet and build a farm operating plan.
According to a USDA press release, this tool is part of a broader effort by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to streamline its processes, improve customer service, and expand credit access.
Farmers who would like to apply in person at USDA service centers may still do so.
The online farm loan application replicates the support an applicant would receive when completing a loan application in person with an FSA farm loan officer, while continuing to provide customers with one-on-one assistance as needed. This tool and other process improvements allow farmers and ranchers to submit complete loan applications and reduce the number of incomplete and withdrawn applications.
Through a personalized dashboard, borrowers can track the progress of their loan application. It can be accessed on www.farmers.gov or by completing FSA’s Loan Assistance Tool at www.farmers.gov/loan-assistance-tool. To use the online loan application tool, producers must establish a USDA customer account and a USDA Level 2 eAuthentication (“eAuth”) account or a Login.gov account. For the initial stage, the online application tool is only available for producers who will be, or are currently, operating their farm as an individual. FSA is expanding the tool’s availability to married couples applying jointly and other legal entities in 2024.
Farm Loan Improvement Efforts
The FSA has a significant initiative underway to streamline and automate Farm Loan Program customer-facing business processes. For the over 26,000 producers who submit a Direct Loan application to FSA annually, and its 85,000 Direct Loan borrowers, FSA has made improvements this year, including:
• A simplified direct loan paper application, reduced from 29 pages to 13 pages.
• The Loan Assistance Tool on www.farmers.gov provides customers with an interactive online, step-by-step guide to identifying the Direct Loan products that may be a fit for their business needs and to understanding the application process.