Almost half a billion dollars under the control of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture can be available in loan funds to help producers unable to line up ownership and operating capital after some USDA-backed loan accounts have run short.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) called on USDA Secretary Dan Glickman to manage the loan accounts by immediately re-pooling unused funds or shifting from reserved accounts that are otherwise lying idle or only slowly being expended.
"Mr. Secretary, you plainly have the authority, and in my mind an obligation, to utilize these resources to meet the most pressing needs facing our farmers," wrote Chairman Combest in a letter to USDA Secretary Dan Glickman, dated May 11, 1999. "If, as you suggest, those funds could meet just two weeks of demand, then think how many people you can help. Congress will pass the supplemental appropriations providing more than a billion dollars in new loan obligations. This will replenish any account that has been used to meet the most pressing needs."
Combest today underscored the passage this week of the supplemental appropriations bill by adding, "This means no account that is being borrowed from will be left high and dry."
According to the Farm Service Agency, $514.2 million remains available in loan accounts at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. as of Friday. Much of this could be temporarily shifted so those producers could line up operating capital for the current planting season.