New Legislation Reforms Farm Service Agency to Give Farmers a Fairer Chance

NFFCPress Room

WASHINGTON, DC, July 28, 2023 – The National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) and Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA (RAFI-USA) jointly celebrate the introduction of the Fair Credit for Farmers Act by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY). The Act improves access and accountability for the farm loan services offered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), a public agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and strengthens the borrower rights of the farmers who feed us. 

Recent economic conditions have challenged small and mid-scale farmers and ranchers, with many relying on FSA loans to fund their businesses despite historic challenges accessing USDA funds and services. Persistent market fluctuations have left many farmers in danger of losing their farms and homes, and U.S. farm debt is higher than ever before — stretching beyond $500 billion. 

Many farmers and ranchers unable to obtain loans from private commercial lenders depend on fair and equitable access to credit at the Farm Service Agency. The Fair Credit for Farmers Act of 2023 reinforces our government’s commitment to all U.S. farmers by enacting improvements such as payment deferral, waived guaranteed loan fees for historically underserved borrowers, debt refinancing options, and limiting loan over-collateralization that puts farmers’ homes and assets at risk. It also corrects the imbalance of power in the appeals process, putting the burden of proof on FSA, rather than farmers, who won’t be required to file needless multiple appeals.

Zaid Kurdieh, of Norwich Meadows Farm and NOFA-NY board of directors, said, “If rural communities are to have the capacity to feed ourselves, remain resilient and thrive economically, small-scale, young, beginning farmers and farmers of color must have access to credit on fair terms to grow and sustain our farming operations, and to stay in our homes without fear of losing them from foreclosure.”

FSA has been criticized for unfair lending practices and burdensome requirements that, historically, have particularly harmed farmers of color. The improvements to government lending accountability and transparency found within the Fair Credit for Farmers Act will better ensure that historically underserved farmers and ranchers receive equal treatment in FSA lending and appeal processes.

Freddie Bynum, reflecting on his experience of 10-plus years of discrimination from the FSA as a Mississippi Black farmer and Federation of Southern Cooperatives member, said, “I want to be treated like a human by FSA. When I ask a question, show me my options without discouraging me or giving me the run-around on my loans.  Just show me what I need to do to qualify and then give me a receipt of service. I want to have the same credit opportunities as other farmers.” 

As 2023 Farm Bill negotiations progress, this new legislation is a timely opportunity to fundamentally rebalance the relationship between farmers and FSA to one of equal partners jointly seeking farm success.  By offering stronger protections for farmers and more flexible credit terms that recognize the unique challenges of farming, the Act will create long-term payoffs that strengthen rural communities across America. 


Since 1986, National Family Farm Coalition has been mobilizing family farmers and ranchers to achieve fair prices, vibrant communities, and healthy foods free of corporate domination. Today, NFFC includes 31 member groups representing family farmers, ranchers, fisherfolk, and rural advocates across the United States. 

RAFI-USA challenges the root causes of unjust food systems, supporting and advocating for economically, racially, and ecologically just farm communities. We envision a thriving, sustainable, and equitable food system: where farmers and farmworkers have dignity and agency; where they are supported by just agricultural policies; where corporations and institutions are accountable to their community.  RAFI-USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Pittsboro, North Carolina, and incorporated in 1990.