Loan Details

People browsing the internet
Farm Operating Loans (Direct and Guaranteed)

Program Description

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers farm operating loans to farmers who are temporarily unable to obtain private, commercial credit. Operating loans may be used to purchase items needed for a successful farm operation. These items include livestock, farm equipment, feed, seed, fuel, farm chemicals, repairs, insurance, and other operating expenses.

Both guaranteed loans and direct loans are available through this program. Eligibility for each type of loan depends on applicant qualifications. Under the guaranteed loan program, conventional lenders (banks, Farm Credit System institutions, and other lenders) make the loan, and FSA guarantees it for up to 95 percent of the loss of principal and interest. The maximum FSA guaranteed operating loan is $1,119,000.

Applicants unable to qualify for a guaranteed loan may be eligible for a direct loan from FSA. Direct loans are made and serviced by FSA officials, who also provide borrowers with supervision and credit counseling. Applicants must show sufficient repayment ability and pledge enough collateral to fully secure the loan. The maximum amount for a direct farm operating loan is $300,000.

General Program Requirements

To be eligible for a farm operating loan from the Farm Service Agency you must:
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Not be delinquent on a Federal debt
  • Not have caused a loss to the Government by having a previous Federal debt forgiven
  • Not have a poor history of repaying debts
  • Not have any controlled substance convictions
  • Be the operator of a "family-sized farm" after the loan is closed (see our Glossary Terms for a definition of family-size farm)
  • Not have any outstanding judgments against you
  • Be unable to obtain credit elsewhere.

Applicants must have enough money to repay the loan and enough collateral to fully secure it. Other eligibility criteria apply and can be found on the Farm Service Agency website or by contacting FSA directly.

Loan Terms

Loan repayment periods for both direct and guaranteed farm operating loans cannot exceed seven years. Loans for annual operating expenses are normally repaid within one year. Loans for equipment and livestock purchases are scheduled for repayment over longer periods, but cannot exceed seven years. Interest rates for direct operating loans are based on the Government's cost of funds. FSA offers lower resource interest rates to direct loan applicants who cannot afford the Agency's regular interest rate. Interest rates for guaranteed operating loans are negotiated by the lender and farmer. However, the lender must not charge the guaranteed loan customer a higher interest rate than they charge their average farm loan customer. In some cases, FSA can pay 4 percent of the interest rate for farmers who cannot afford the lender's normal interest rate. For most guaranteed loans, FSA charges an origination fee equal to one percent of the guarantee.
Your Next Steps
The following information will lead you to the next steps to apply for this benefit.

Application Process

To apply for a direct farm operating loan, you submit an application form (FSA-2001) and business plan, in addition to other forms required to determine eligibility.

To apply for a guarantee loan, visit your lender, who will arrange for the guarantee.

Program Contact Information

For more information, visit:

You may also obtain information through your local FSA office or USDA service center. To locate the office nearest you, visit:

Managing Agency

U.S. Department of Agriculture