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Coronavirus and USDA Service Centers

We are committed to delivering USDA services to America’s farmers and ranchers while taking safety measures in response to the COVID-19, or new coronavirus, outbreak. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. We will update this page with information related to the new coronavirus and current status of USDA Service Centers, online options for conducting business, and updates to USDA programs and services in response to COVID-19.

USDA COVID-19 Resources

This page primarily provides information on USDA Service Centers and our continued support of farmers and ranchers through Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and other USDA agencies.

Visit usda.gov/coronavirus for answers to frequently asked questions focusing on food safety, access to food, pet safety, and trade and foreign agricultural affairs.

 

Service Center Status and Continued Service

USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only. While our program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with our agricultural producers by phone and using email and online tools whenever possible. Field work, including conservation planning assistance, will continue with appropriate social distancing.

Producers can find their Service Center’s phone number at farmers.gov/service-center-locator.

 

Updates on Programs and Services

 

Farm Loans

Producers can continue to apply for farm loans and get their current loans serviced. Farm loans are critical for annual operating and family living expenses, emergency needs, and cash flow in challenging times like now.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency is relaxing the loan-making process and adding flexibilities for servicing direct and guaranteed loans to provide credit to producers in need.

Relaxing the Farm Loan-Making Process

FSA is relaxing the loan-making process. This includes:

  • Extending the deadline for applicants to complete farm loan applications;
  • Preparing Direct Loans documents even if FSA is unable to complete lien and record searches because of closed government buildings. Once those searches are complete, FSA would close the loan; and
  • Closing loans if the required lien position on the primary security is perfected, even for loans that require additional security and those lien searches, filings, and recordings cannot be obtained because of closed government buildings.

Servicing Direct Loans

FSA is extending deadlines for producers to respond to loan servicing actions, including loan deferral consideration for financially distressed and delinquent borrowers.

FSA will temporarily suspend loan accelerations, non-judicial foreclosures, and referring foreclosures to the Department of Justice. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will make the determination whether to stop foreclosures and evictions on accounts under its jurisdiction.

Servicing Guaranteed Loans

Guarantee lenders can self-certify, providing their borrowers with:

  • Subsequent-year operating loan advances on lines of credit;
  • Emergency advances on lines of credit.

FSA will consider guaranteed lender requests for:

  • Temporary payment deferral consideration when borrowers do not have a feasible plan reflecting that family living expenses, operating expenses, and debt can be repaid; and
  • Temporary forbearance consideration for borrowers on loan liquidation and foreclosure actions.
     

Crop Insurance

Producers can continue to work with their Approved Insurance Providers on policies, claims, and agreements. Farmers with crop insurance questions or needs should continue to contact their insurance agents about conducting business by telephone or email.

USDA’s Risk Management Agency is working with those insurance providers to provide additional flexibilities in response to COVID-19, including:

  • Enabling producers to send notifications and reports electronically
  • Extending the date for production reports
  • Providing additional time and deferring interest on premium and other payments
  • Authorizing replant self-certification
  • Waiving the witness signature requirement for approval of Assignments of Indemnity

Electronic Notifications 

Producers may send notifications and reports electronically for written agreement issues, acreage and production reporting, and upcoming sales closing dates (deadlines to buy crop insurance). Notice of the policyholder’s election may be provided over the phone with appropriate documentation of the call or using electronic methods followed by their confirmation of such election in writing (via a signed, or e-signed, form) no later than July 15, 2020.

Production Reporting Dates

For the 2020 crop year, AIPs may accept production reports through the earlier of the acreage reporting date or 30 days after the production reporting date for crops insured under the Common Crop Insurance Policy Basic Provisions with a PRD of March 15, 2020, or later. Generally, the PRD for crops insured under the Common Crop Insurance Policy Basic Provisions is the earlier of the ARD or 45 days after the cancellation date.

More Time and Deferred Interest on Payments

AIPs are authorized to provide additional time for policyholders to make payment of premium and administrative fees. Interest accrual on premium payments and administrative fees will be waived to the earliest of an additional 60 days from the scheduled payment due date or the termination date on policies with premium billing dates between March 1, 2020, and April 30, 2020. AIPs are also authorized to provide additional time for policyholders to make payment for Written Payment Agreements due between March 1, 2020, and April 30, 2020. Payments may be extended up to 60 days from the scheduled payment due date and considered a timely payment.

Replant Self-Certification

For the 2020 crop year only, AIPs are authorized to allow self-certification replant inspections for up to 100 gross acres (before considering share) per unit in lieu of 50 acres.

Authorized crops for self-certification of up to 100 acres for replant include: barley and wheat not covered by the Winter Coverage Endorsement (both initially planted winter and spring crops), buckwheat, canola and rapeseed, corn, dry beans, flax (spring-seeded only), grain sorghum, mustard, oats (spring-seeded only), popcorn (including popcorn revenue), peanuts, safflowers, soybeans, sugar beets, and sunflower seed.

Assignment of Indemnity

AIPs are authorized to waive the witness signature requirement for approval of Assignments through July 15, 2020. The insured’s and creditor’s signature on the Assignment will be required in a pen and ink signature and in the hand of the person whose signature is required or an acceptable electronic (digital) signature in accordance with the AIPs’ established Electronic Business Implementation Plan and applicable RMA procedures.

Conservation

Producers can continue to apply for conservation programs and received conservation planning assistance.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service offers year-round continuous signup for Farm Bill programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. Additionally, NRCS staff are available to continue to provide one-on-one, conservation planning assistance to producers to help them meet their unique conservation and business goals.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency offers year-round signup for the Conservation Reserve Program continuous signup. Additionally, signups for the Soil Health and Income Protection and Conservation Reserve Program – Grasslands are ongoing.

Please call your local USDA Service Center to learn about sign up and application submission options for USDA programs and services related to conservation.

Disaster Assistance and Safety Net Programs

Producers can continue to apply for disaster assistance and safety net programs. This includes the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus, Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs, Farm Storage Facility Loan program, and commodity loans.

Signup began March 23 for producers who suffered losses to drought or excess moisture in 2018 and/or 2019 through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus. The 2020 signup for Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs ends June 30.

 

Resources for Conducting Business Online

Online services are available to producers with a Level 2 eAuthentication account, which provides access to the farmers.gov portal and Conservation Client Gateway. Available services include:

  • View loan information, history, and payments for USDA farm loans.
  • Track NRCS payments, report completed practices, request conservation assistance, and electronically sign certain NRCS documents.

Customers who do not already have an eAuth account can enroll by selecting the “Sign In | Sign Up” option at the top of the page. This provides step-by-step instructions for creating an account.

 

Find Your Local Service Center

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county to find your local service center and agency offices.

Visit the Risk Management Agency website to find a regional or compliance office or to find an insurance agent near you.