Arkansas Congressmen: New FSA Loan Extensions in Turner Case Provide Relief

U.S. Representatives Rick Crawford (AR-1), Tim Griffin (AR-2), Steve Womack (AR-3), and Tom Cotton (AR-4) applauded a decision Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) to extend the repayment date of its Marketing Assistance Loans (MALs) an additional 90 days to agricultural producers affected by the Turner Grain Merchandising collapse in Brinkley, Ark.

The Arkansas House delegation sent a joint letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on August 28 requesting a 180-day extension, but Vilsack only granted an extension of 60 days on top of the 30-day extension already provided. FSA’s new extensions come as its current marketing authorization extensions would begin expiring on October 30, meeting the 180 days requested in the letter. The agency’s decision now pushes those expirations to January 2015. In addition, FSA further clarified it would waive interest accrual for the entire 180-day period. The delegation said the extension and the waiver give Arkansas producers much needed breathing room and more flexibility in the repayment of their loans.

“These additional 90 days provide relief to producers facing a deadline on their federal loans while also dealing with the collapse of their grain buyer,” the group said in a joint statement Tuesday. “Agriculture accounts for approximately one in six jobs in the state of Arkansas, and we thank Secretary Vilsack for recognizing the need to give the farmers involved in this situation ample time to recover. Furthermore, after 180 days, our growers would have faced sticker-shock with the interest accrued on their MALs. FSA did the right thing by not punishing our producers for an event they could not control. We look forward to working with all parties involved to fully resolve this loan issue and to protect our growers should a similar situation arise in the future.”

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