Through no fault of their own, our nation’s farmers and ranchers have faced incredibly tough circumstances. That includes producer Marcus Milford of Alexander City, Ala., who is one of the more than 20,000 producers who received life-changing, transformational support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), USDA has been able to provide approximately $1.1 billion in immediate assistance for distressed borrowers, including those who were behind on their USDA farm loans, to help make them current.
This helped producers like Marcus who were at risk of losing their operations due to several unprecedented challenges, including trade disruptions, a worldwide pandemic, continued impacts on input costs and markets, and more frequent, more intense, climate-induced natural disasters.
Marcus has been running a poultry farm since 2009. Originally, he ran a small cattle operation and expanded into poultry houses on 37 acres of land contracted through Koch Foods. He worked hard and grew his broiler farm to approximately 130,000 birds.
“I love agriculture because of the flexibility of your schedule,” said Marcus. “You may work more hours, but your time is more flexible, and it beats a 9-5.”
Marcus began working with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in 2014 with a guaranteed farm loan. He now has a farm ownership and a microloan with FSA. Due to the pandemic in 2020, he had difficulty making ends meet due to increased expenses. He couldn’t make his farm loan payments and fell behind.
“It was very stressful with the uncertainty of the business and the market,” said Marcus. “All the fast-food places were closed due to Covid, and that is a large part of where my product goes.”
When Marcus received his IRA assistance letter it filled him with emotion. He was very thankful to USDA for giving him some breathing room and helping him stay afloat during the hard times. He is now making big plans for his farm.
“My birthday was the day President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. I plan to buy more equipment and try to tap into the litter market. The Inflation Reduction Act got me caught up on bills and will allow me to borrow more money to get litter equipment.”
On August 16, 2022, President Biden signed the IRA into law. Section 22006 of the IRA provided $3.1 billion for USDA to provide relief for distressed borrowers with certain FSA direct and guaranteed loans and to expedite assistance for those whose agricultural operations are at financial risk. The IRA has provided an opportunity for USDA to both address the immediate need of distressed borrowers and design a better path and process for distressed borrowers. Learn more about IRA assistance for distressed borrowers.
For more information on this story, contact Decetti Taylor, communications coordinator for the Farm Service Agency in Alabama.