Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer has put into place another new farm bill provision, increasing the limits on loans to $300,000 — up from $200,000 — for direct farm ownership and operating loans. Farm Service Agency (FSA ) loan limits had remained unchanged since 1984.

"Our Farm Service Agency has already started making loans with today's costs of running a farm our top consideration," Schafer said. "We are proud to help the hard-working Americans who were struggling with the high costs of running a family farm — especially beginning and socially disadvantaged producers. USDA is working together with farmers at the local level to make this happen."

Direct loans are a resource for farmers to get the credit they need to build and sustain family farms and ranches. The increased loan limits are expected to help farmers whose credit requirements could not previously be met by the FSA loan limits. In addition, some existing FSA borrowers who have already reached the previous limit of $200,000 will now be eligible to obtain additional credit from FSA.

Direct farm loans are made by FSA with government funds. FSA also services these loans and provides direct loan borrowers with supervision and business planning so they have a better chance for success. Farm ownership, operating, emergency, and youth loans are the main types of loans available under the direct program.

Direct loan funds are also set aside each year for loans to socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers.

Farmers interested in applying for a direct operating or farm ownership loan should contact their local FSA office.

For more information about these and other types of loans, visit the FSA's home page at http://www.fsa.usda.gov and click on "Farm Loan Programs."