American Rescue Plan Debt Payments FAQ

FAQ for the American Rescue Plan Debt Payments in English

Last Updated: May 21, 2021

FAQ in Multiple Languages

Last Updated: May 21,2021

Call Center Available | Centro de Llamadas Disponible

If you need additional assistance, our Call Center is available weekdays from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET.  Call 877-508-8364, then select “American Rescue Plan”. Assistance is available in multiple languages. If you need an operator who speaks a language other than English or Spanish, please select English and tell the operator what language you need. | Si necesita asistencia adicional, nuestro centro de llamadas está disponible de lunes a viernes de 8 a.m. a 7 p.m. ET. Llame al 877-508-8364, luego seleccione "American Rescue Plan". La asistencia está disponible en varios idiomas. Si necesita un operador que hable un idioma que no sea inglés o español, seleccione inglés y dígale al operador qué idioma necesita.

Eligible Producers

Question 1: Would you further explain the meaning of the "socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher" designation? What are the criteria for meeting such a designation?

  • The term “socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher” means a farmer or rancher who is member of a socially disadvantaged group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities, as defined by section 2501(a) of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 2279(a)). Members of socially disadvantaged groups include, but are not limited to:  
    • American Indians or Alaskan Natives;
    • Asians;
    • Blacks or African Americans;
    • Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders; and
    • Hispanics or Latinos.
  • The Secretary of Agriculture will determine on a case-by-case basis whether additional groups qualify under this definition in response to a written request with supporting explanation.
  • FSA loan customers may voluntarily self-identify their race and ethnicity as part of their loan application or at any time through form AD-2047. On the offer letter mailed to eligible borrowers, each one will be required to certify their racial or ethnic designation prior to FSA making payments. 

Question 2: Are co-borrowers and entity members eligible?

  • Yes, if multiple individuals are liable for the debt on eligible loans, and at least one of those individuals (the primary borrower, co-borrower, or an entity member with personal liability) is eligible based on the definition outlined in Section 2501. 

Question 3: I was a successful claimant in a class action settlement (e.g., Pigford, Keepseagle), and received debt forgiveness. I have secured one of the eligible loans, do I still qualify?

  • Yes, if you have eligible indebtedness as of January 1, 2021. (See “Eligible Loans” below.)

Question 4:  I had a direct or guaranteed farm loan in the past but lost the farm and do not have current debt. Am I eligible for relief?

  • If you do not have a current farm loan, you are not eligible for debt relief under Section 1005, however you may be eligible to benefit from assistance provided in Section 1006 of the American Rescue Plan. USDA is actively working to establish a process for providing assistance to former borrowers that are socially disadvantaged based on race and ethnicity. Details will be shared as soon as a process is established.

 

Eligible Loans

Question 5: What loans are eligible for payments under the American Rescue Plan?

  • Eligible loans include:
    1. Direct loans by FSA, including Farm Storage Facility Loans, Conservation Loans, Emergency Loans, Farm Ownership Loans, Grazing Loans,  Irrigation and Drainage Loans, Operating loans (including Youth Loans and Microloans), and Soil and Water Loans; direct non-program loans and Softwood Timber Loans where the original loan was issued under the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act.
    2. Guaranteed loans by FSA and made by an approved lender, including Farm Ownership Loans, Farm Operating Loans, and Conservation Loans.
  • Both delinquent and current loans are eligible. Debts associated with these types of loans that have been referred for offset or collection are also eligible.

 

Question 6: I have a Farm Ownership Down Payment Loan where I provided a 5% down payment and FSA financed 45% of the loan amount. A commercial lender provided a loan for the other 50%. Is my loan with the other lender eligible for an ARPA payment?

  • The loan financed by FSA is eligible. For the 50% portion financed by a commercial lender, it is eligible if the lender obtained an FSA Farm Loan guarantee on their loan. Private and commercial loans not guaranteed by FSA are ineligible, including those loans used to help jointly finance a property purchase with FSA.

Question 7: Are all USDA direct and guaranteed loans and debts eligible?

  • No. Rural Development loans, FSA Marketing Assistance Loans and debts associated with other USDA programs or other non-USDA federal debts are not eligible.

Question 8:  Is my farm-related loan from a Farm Credit institution or a local bank eligible?

  • No. Loans from commercial lenders such as banks, credit unions or Farm Credit institutions that do not include a FSA guarantee are not eligible.

Question 9: Are my FSA Direct, Guaranteed, or Farm Storage Facility Loans obtained after January 1, 2021, eligible?

  • No. Only loans made and advanced as of January 1, 2021 are eligible. 

 

Debt Payments

Question 10: Where can I find information about USDA’s announcement for payments to socially disadvantaged borrowers?

  • See the Notice of Funds Availability describing ARPA payments for eligible Direct Loans. A separate notice will address Guaranteed Loan borrowers and lenders, and Direct Farm Loans borrowers who no longer have collateral or an active farming operation and whose loans have been previously referred to the Department of Treasury for debt collection for offset. That notice will be published in the Federal Register within 120 days. 

Question 11: How will eligible Direct Loan borrowers be notified of loan payment provisions and what information will be included? 

  • The public will be notified in two ways:
    • A copy of the Notice of Funds Availability with implementation details is available.
    • FSA will mail an offer letter (form FSA-2601) to all eligible Direct Loan entities and borrowers. It includes eligible outstanding loan balances, payment calculations, requests direct deposit bank account information, and the designations of socially disadvantaged borrowers as recorded in FSA’s files. Instructions are provided in the offer letter to accept, decline, or request a meeting with FSA. Borrowers who prefer to receive an offer letter by email should contact their local FSA service center. The offer letter template will be posted at farmers.gov/AmericanRescuePlan.

Question 12: What can borrowers do in advance of receiving the offer letter?

  • Borrowers can contact their local service center to verify whether their eligibility criteria is recorded at FSA. If an update or correction is needed, borrowers may either complete a USDA Form AD-2047 or work with your local FSA service center to update your records. Borrowers may also want to review their loan documents and payment history and compare this to the information in the offer letter when received. 

Question 13: What is the amount of the debt payment I will receive?

  • Congress authorized up to 120% of the amount of indebtedness of eligible loans. The amount is based on what is owed as of January 1, 2021. Loan payments received from borrowers after January 1, 2021 will not reduce the amount of the American Rescue Plan debt payment from FSA. Details of the process and the debt payment can be reviewed with a borrower prior to processing. Details about how to request a meeting with FSA are in each offer letter.

Question 14: What should a borrower do if they want to dispute the data in the offer letter (Form FSA-2601)?

  • A borrower should select the option in the offer letter to request a meeting with an FSA employee. If corrections are needed, a new offer letter will be provided. If a disagreement still remains, they will be provided with appeal options.

Question 15: What if I have multiple loans?

  • For eligible borrowers, the up to 120% amount is tied to the borrower’s total indebtedness across all eligible loans.

Question 16: When will a borrower receive a Direct Loan offer notice and when will payments be issued?

  • FSA will begin to mail offer letters the week of May 24. Most eligible Direct Loan borrowers will receive an offer letter by June 30. After an offer letter is received with all of the required signatures, it will take FSA approximately 3 weeks to pay off a loan and issue a payment to a borrower. Eligible borrowers can contact their local FSA service center with inquiries, but it is recommended that borrowers wait until mid-July before inquiring about the status of their offer letter or direct payment.

Question 17: When will liens be released if loans were secured by equipment, livestock, and/or real estate? 

  • FSA will release its liens for all loans that have been paid in full according to State law after the final pay off of Direct Loans.

Question 18: Is there a deadline for borrowers to respond to the offer letter received from FSA?

  • If an offer has not been formally accepted or declined within 30 days from the date of the initial offer, FSA will send a reminder letter and make a phone call or send an email if that contact information is on file. If a response to accept or decline an offer is not received after 60 days from the date of the initial offer, FSA will provide a second reminder notification to those borrowers that a payment will not be processed unless the eligible recipient contacts FSA. Should FSA establish a final deadline, it will be publicly announced, and a final notification will be sent to borrowers at least 30 days in advance of the deadline.

 

Other Questions

Question 19: Is there a fee charged by USDA to participate and do I need a third party to help me access this loan assistance?

  • There is no fee to participate. FSA employees will assist borrowers with their questions free of charge and will help producers complete any required documents. You do not need a third party to access this assistance and can work directly with USDA. USDA plans to collaborate with community-based organizations and universities on outreach, technical assistance, and providing borrowers with access to financial, legal, and tax planning services using the resources provided in Section 1006 of ARP. USDA will compensate these official partners, but borrowers should NOT pay a fee. If you are approached by someone seeking a payment or if it seems like a scam, please share this information with USDA to investigate.

Question 20: I’m a socially disadvantaged producer with loans that qualify but I have not designated my race or ethnicity to my local office, what should I do?

  • You have several options, which right now all include the USDA Form AD-2047:
    • Call your local USDA service center and inform them that you’d like to fill out the form over the phone.
    • Download and print form AD-2047, sign it and mail or deliver it to your local USDA Service Center.

Question 21: Are there any similar programs for borrowers who are not socially disadvantaged based on race and ethnicity?

  • This American Rescue Plan program is for socially disadvantaged borrowers, as outlined in Question 1. FSA offers a range of other support programs available, including assistance provided in response to the pandemic, Disaster Set-Aside and Primary Loan Servicing. If you are facing an economic hardship, we encourage you to contact your local USDA service center.

Question 22: I have loan payments that are coming due. What should I do?

  • For FSA Direct Loans, USDA is not taking any adverse actions on any eligible borrower who does not make payments.
  • For Farm Storage Facility Loans, USDA is not taking any adverse actions on any eligible borrower who does not make payments.
  • For FSA Guaranteed Loans, borrowers should make all regularly scheduled payments as agreed to with your lender.
  • Your debt relief payment will be calculated based on the amount you owed on January 1, 2021. Borrowers will be reimbursed for any payments made after January 1, 2021. USDA is encouraging lenders to be flexible and has issued guidance, as of January 26, 2021, to help lenders understand available flexibilities.

Question 23:  My loan is delinquent, and I was notified that foreclosure or liquidation proceeding were starting.  What do I need to do to prevent foreclosure?

  • FSA has suspended all foreclosure, debt collection and other adverse actions for direct loans during the pandemic and has encouraged lenders with guaranteed loans to follow suit. FSA is in the process of gathering information on all such loans from lenders. If you have a guaranteed loan and a lender has indicated plans to continue with foreclosure or liquidation, contact your local USDA service center so that FSA is made aware and may intervene.

Question 24:  Will USDA require that I prove my U.S. citizenship?

  • No additional information will be required with regards to U.S. citizenship or immigration status. FSA loans are available to U.S. citizens and certain legal residents according to federal law. This information was verified when the loan was originally made and does not need to be repeated.

      Question 25: Why aren’t Guaranteed Farm Loan payments included in the first round of payments? 

      • There are significant differences in the financial accounting and program components between Direct and Guaranteed Loans. To ensure timely payments for as many borrowers as possible, USDA is initiating payments for the majority of Direct Loan accounts before procedures for Guaranteed Loan payments are finalized. About 85% of eligible borrowers have Direct Loans.

            Question 26: What should a borrower do if they never received an offer letter or misplaced it?

            • A borrower should contact their local FSA service center staff. 

            Question 27: Will ARPA payment recipients be eligible for future FSA loans?

            • Yes. The FSA encourages ongoing use of its loan programs. Customers should contact their local FSA service center if they have questions about loan assistance.

            Question 28: Will commercial lenders that have loans guaranteed by FSA for an eligible socially disadvantaged borrower be paid the total amount of the loan or only for the amount of the guaranteed (90% or 95%) portion?

            • The entire Guaranteed Loan balance outstanding as of January 1, 2021 will be paid, regardless of the level of the guarantee.

            Question 29: What assistance is available for borrowers who do not speak English?

            • Borrowers may contact the call center at 877-508-8364, then select “American Rescue Plan.” Assistance is available in multiple languages. If a borrower needs to speak with an operator who speaks a language other than English or Spanish, please select English and tell the operator what language you need. Also, a borrower receiving an offer notice can contact their local FSA Service Center with questions. Verbal and written language translation can be provided. Additional assistance for borrowers through community-based organizations and other service providers will be made available in a future letter to borrowers and announced on farmers.gov/americanrescueplan, via GovDelivery, and a press release.

            Question 30: Since FSA-approved lenders participating in the Guaranteed Loan Program commonly may not collect borrower demographics, how is FSA planning to identify which of their borrowers are eligible for ARPA?

            • A voluntary collection of race and ethnicity is included in the application prepared by the borrower and lender to obtain the FSA guarantee. Borrowers may contact their local FSA office to confirm their race and ethnicity designation. All eligible borrowers are encouraged to submit the USDA Form AD-2047 and provide that designation directly to FSA. In May 2021, FSA sent a letter to all Direct and Guaranteed Loan primary borrowers who are identified in FSA’s records as socially disadvantaged based on race or ethnicity. A separate letter was sent to borrowers whose race or ethnicity was recorded as unknown in FSA’s records, and it described the process for a borrower to update their records with the local FSA service center. FSA customers can complete an AD-2047 and submit it to the local FSA service center.

            Question 31: Why is ARPA FSA payments only for FSA borrowers who are socially disadvantaged? 

            • Congress authorized debt payments to provide economic assistance to socially disadvantaged producers as defined by Section 2501 (a) of the 1990 Farm Bill. These producers have not had the same access as other producers due to systemic inequitable treatment, including by the USDA.