Senators 'unhappy' with USDA loan cut

Fourteen senators from both sides of the aisle are unhappy that the Obama administration instituted a cut to a loan program designed to help farmers when harvest prices are low.

This week, the lawmakers sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom VilsackThomas J. VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE expressing “serious concern” about cuts to the lending program, known as marketing assistance loans, as well as a decision to delay processing loans while the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) updates its software.

The decision, they wrote in the letter, could force farmers to turn to more expensive sources of credit during harvest, change future contracts and hurt farmers’ profits.

ADVERTISEMENT
“The decision to apply sequestration and delay loan processing just as harvest across much of the Sunbelt is gearing up is particularly damaging because it was made without warning,” they wrote.

“This means growers, marketing cooperatives, private merchandizing firms, and agribusinesses were unable to make alternative plans to mitigate the financial hardship imposed by the decisions.”

On Sept. 30, the USDA decided to apply 5.1 percent cut to marketing assistance loans made after Oct. 1.

The department also announced that it would delay processing some loans by two weeks. That holdup was pushed back to this week because of the 16-day government shutdown.

“Without the predictable cash flow that Marketing Assistance Loans provide, producers will not be able to repay or extend their operating loans which will lead to additional interest charges if growers are unable to avoid defaulting on their financial obligations,” they added.

The senators who sent the letter are Sens. Thad CochranThad CochranDefense hawks gird for budget brawl Congressional politics hurts cotton farmers GOP senators dismiss Trump filibuster change MORE (R-Miss.), Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissOPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party GOP hopefuls crowd Georgia special race Democrats go for broke in race for Tom Price's seat MORE (R-Ga.), John BoozmanJohn BoozmanLobbying World The Hill's 12:30 Report GOP leader tempers ObamaCare expectations MORE (R-Ark.), Richard BurrRichard BurrSenate intel panel to hold hearing on Russian meddling in Europe Overnight Tech: Uber CEO resigns | Trump's Iowa tech trip | Dems push Sessions to block AT&T-Time Warner deal | Lawmakers warned on threat to election systems | Overnight Cybersecurity: Obama DHS chief defends Russian hack response | Trump huddles on grid security | Lawmakers warned about cyber threat to election systems MORE (R-N.C.), John CornynJohn CornynManhattan prosecutor: Gun law reciprocity bill ‘supported, I am sure, by ISIS’ GOP at decisive moment on Planned Parenthood Opioid crisis threatens GOP ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Texas), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamSenate panel questions Lynch on alleged FBI interference The Hill's Whip List: Senate ObamaCare repeal bill Judiciary Committee to continue Russia probe after Mueller meeting MORE (R-S.C.), Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (D-N.C.), James InhofeJames InhofeMcCain strikes back as Trump’s chief critic Turbulence for Trump on air traffic control Parliamentarian threatens deadly blow to GOP healthcare bill MORE (R-Okla.), Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonGeorgia special election runoff: live coverage House approves VA bill, sending it to Trump Senate backs bill making it easier to fire VA employees MORE (R-Ga.), Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuMeet Mitch Landrieu, the 2020 dark-horse Dem Medicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Five unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory MORE (D-La.), Mark PryorMark PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (D-Ark.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), David VitterDavid VitterOvernight Energy: Trump set to propose sharp cuts to EPA, energy spending Former La. official tapped as lead offshore drilling regulator Former senator who crafted chemicals law to lobby for chemicals industry MORE (R-La.), and Roger WickerRoger WickerOvernight Defense: GOP chairman moves ahead with 0B defense bill | Lawmakers eye 355 ship navy | Senate panel seeks answers on shoot down of Syrian jet Lawmakers unveil bill to set 355-ship Navy Overnight Tech: Uber CEO resigns | Trump's Iowa tech trip | Dems push Sessions to block AT&T-Time Warner deal | Lawmakers warned on threat to election systems | MORE (R-Miss.).