A total of $760 million is now available for direct loans to farmers, announced Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack in West Salem, WI, last week. The funds are available from the Supplemental Appropriations Act.

“President Obama provided a welcome boost to rural economies around the country when he signed the Supplemental Appropriations Act, because it has critical funds that will enable local producers to access necessary capital,” said Vilsack in a release distributed at a Rural Tour community forum at the La Crosse Interstate Fair.

“USDA will deliver these loans to producers as quickly as possible to meet the capital needs of farmers and ranchers,” he added.

State offices have already received $400 million for direct operating loans. These funds will clear a $150 million backlog of loans, which had already been approved to 2,200 family farmers, and provide additional funds for new loan applications.

The remaining $360 million will be distributed directly by USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Currently, 1,800 family farmers have been approved loans totaling $322 million. Direct Farm Ownership loans can be used to buy farmland, construct or repair buildings and other fixtures and promote soil and water conservation. Operating loans can be used to buy livestock, farm equipment, feed, seed, fuel, farm chemicals, insurance and pay other operating expenses. They can also be used to pay for minor improvements to buildings, costs associated with land and water development, family subsistence, and to refinance debts under certain conditions. Maximum amount for either type of loan is $300,000.

Those interested in applying for direct loans or seeking more information, visit their local FSA county offices.