The Agriculture Department has launched an online tool that will streamline the farm loan application with an eye toward ensuring more equitable treatment of producers.

The online system will reduce the application for direct loans from 29 pages to 13 pages and give applicants an option of a paperless and electronic signatures. They also will be able to attach tax returns and other supporting documents, and make loan payments online, as well.

Clicking on “Get Started” at the Loan Assistance Tool begins a step-by-step self-assessment process for determining eligibility.

According to USDA, the Farm Service Agency experiences a high rate of applications that are incomplete or are withdrawn, due in part to a cumbersome application process.

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“The Loan Assistance Tool is another example of USDA taking accountability and ensuring we update our existing systems, processes, and policies to make them equitable for all customers,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux.

“The tool will help loan applicants better understand the application process and gather the needed documents before the process even begins.”  

Much of the criticism the department has received over the years in terms of its treatment of minority farmers has centered on its loan programs. 

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