The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking steps to make the process for rural investment more user-friendly. USDA will be making the process for lenders to access loan programs easier. The announcement comes as part of a larger departmentwide effort to identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to better support agriculture and prosperity in rural communities.
“Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is committed to cutting red tape and enhancing customer service so we can be a better partner to America’s rural leaders in building prosperity,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a news release. “These enhancements will make it easier for private lenders to use USDA programs to invest in rural businesses and grassroots rural economic development efforts.”
The regulatory reforms collectively known as the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative will overhaul several duplicative processes and establish a single platform for the Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees Program, the Community Facilities Guaranteed Loan Program, the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, and the Rural Energy for America Guaranteed Loan Program. USDA will be standardizing requirements for credit reviews, loan processing, loan servicing, and loss claims.
Among the reforms of the programs is the launch of a common loan note guarantee application and consistent forms for lenders. USDA will also provide guaranteed percentage and fee requirements to lenders through a single annual notice at the beginning of each fiscal year. Lenders will also be allowed to obtain approval for loan guarantees prior to the beginning of construction.
The new changes to improve rural investment will become effective on October 1. A series of listening sessions detailing the changes will take place in the coming weeks and months. The changes have been initiated as part of the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity which was created in 2017 as a means for reducing the red tape surrounding USDA programs.