Tester Statement on USDA Extension of Loan Repayments for Food Producers

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) complied with his request to give Montana farmers and ranchers more flexibility when repaying Marketing Assistance Loans (MAL) during the COVID-19 pandemic:

“As most Montanans hunker down in their homes to prevent the spread of coronavirus, our farmers and ranchers are still working every day to keep food on our tables. With producers relying on government loans to keep doing their jobs, it’s critical that they have more time to repay their debt, not less. That’s why I’m glad to see that USDA listened to my request to extend payment deadlines for farmers and ranchers, because at a time like this it’s critical that they have some flexibility.”

USDA is offering MALs to food producers as part of the agency’s implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—a bill that Tester supported. With today’s announcement, MALs taken out by food producers will mature after twelve months rather than nine, and this flexibility is available for most commodities.

Tester has led the charge to protect Montana producers during the coronavirus pandemic. After the state’s ranchers recently saw the steepest price decline for cattle in forty years due to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Tester demanded that Secretary Perdue take immediate action to stabilize beef markets.