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Agri-Pulse reports:

The Biden administration is wasting little time selling the media and the public on that giant new spending and tax bill, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the bill's benefits include $3.1 billion in farm debt relief that will help keep many struggling farmers in business.

Speaking to members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, Vilsack said that as many as 25% of the farmers with USDA loans are either delinquent or have been delinquent in the recent past, indicating "a level of distress."

"We know right now there's a moratorium on foreclosure actions. But that moratorium gets lifted when and if the public health emergency gets lifted. And that can occur sometime this fall," he said.

He went on, "It's a tool that we've longed for ... to be able to have that flexibility to say with a reduced interest rate or with restructuring of your loan, 'We put you in a position where you can stay on the farm.'"

By the way: He noted that the debt relief will be based on need, not race. The funding replaces a program for minority farmers that was blocked by the courts.

More Vilsack: Funding to address conservation backlog 'right away'

The climate bill also will enable USDA to immediately start addressing the huge backlog in demand for conservation programs, Vilsack says. The measure provides about $18 billion for four programs, with the first tranche of funding authorized for fiscal 2023, which starts Oct. 1.

"The expectation is that these resources will be put to use right away," he said. The money "is going to allow us to begin to whittle down the very significant waiting lists that we have for projects that require conservation resources," he said.

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