Farm Loan Programs:

Improvements in the Loan Portfolio but Continued Monitoring Needed

GAO-01-732T: Published: May 16, 2001. Publicly Released: May 16, 2001.

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This testimony discusses the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) farm loan programs, which are run by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). GAO (1) provides an overview of the financial condition of FSA's farm loan portfolio as of September 30, 2000 and (2) explains its decision to remove the farm programs from its high-risk list. GAO found that FSA had more than $16.6 billion in outstanding farm loans as of September 30, 2000; direct loans accounted for slightly more than half of this amount and guaranteed loans for slightly less than half. Of the $16.6 billion, about $2.1 billion was owed by borrowers who were delinquent on repaying their FSA loans. Most (87 percent) of the $2.1 billion was owed on direct farm loans. Although the total amount due on the problem loans remains high, this financial position reflects improvement in FSA's direct loan portfolio in recent years as well as a continuation of a relatively healthy guaranteed loan portfolio. In January 2001, GAO removed FSA's farm loan programs from its high-risk list. Several actions taken by Congress and USDA, many of which GAO recommended, have significantly improved the operation and condition of USDA's farm loan programs.

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