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Congress Passes Provision Freeing Up Federal Farm-Loan Funds

Cotton Farm
(Photo by Casey Kuhn - KJZZ)
A cotton farm.

Congress recently passed an unusual budget provision to give the U.S. Farm Service Agency no limit to how much money can be loaned to farmers through April.

At the end of last fiscal year, government farm-loan money ran out as growers borrowed more to get through a bad agricultural downturn.

Low prices for commodities, ranging from dairy to field crops like cotton, have hurt producers in all regions. And the Farm Service Agency fell short more than $130 million in loans.

Arizona FSA director Gloria Montaño said local farmers were waiting all of September before their already-approved loans could be funded.

“These are farmers that are probably, most small or local farmers that need it the most," she said. "Hopefully it doesn’t make or break them, and they can be able to live out one or two months until that loan gets funded to them.”

Montaño says this year the agency saw an increase in micro- and youth loans, which she says is promising for the future of ag in the state.

“It helps us hope that individuals are going into the pipeline to become the next generation of farmers and ranchers.”

In 2016, the Farm Service Agency doled out $19.5 million in loans to Arizona farmers.

Casey Kuhn reports from KJZZ’s West Valley Bureau. She comes to Phoenix from the Midwest, where she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in journalism.Kuhn got her start in radio reporting in college at the community public radio station, WFHB. She volunteered there as a reporter and worked her way up to host the half-hour, daily news show. After graduating, she became a multimedia reporter at Bloomington's NPR/PBS station WFIU/WTIU, where she reported for and produced a weekly statewide news television show.Since moving to the Southwest, she’s discovered a passion for reporting on rural issues, agriculture and the diverse people who make up her community.Kuhn was born and raised in Cincinnati, where her parents instilled in her a love of baseball, dogs and good German beer. You’ll most likely find her around the Valley with a glass of prosecco in one hand and a graphic novel in the other.She finds the most compelling stories come from KJZZ’s listeners.