FSA Loans for Commodity Marketing Assistance: Online Loan Applications

FSA loans are loans issued and backed by the United States Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA). The FSA marketing assistance loans are designed to give farmers some funding they can use to market their crops during the harvest season. Ideally, advertising would bring more profit, which, in turn, would allow farmers to pay back the loans and still have enough profit to take care of their own financial needs. Like other federal loans, commodity marketing assistance loans have more lenient credit requirements than private loans, but they also come with stricter maximum loan caps and payment terms.

Commodity Marketing Assistance Loans Basics

The marketing assistance loans are available for farmers who produce loan commodities. For the purpose of this loan, loan commodities are crops such as wheat, corn, grain sorghum, barley, oats, cotton, rice, soybeans, all types of oilseeds, dry peas, lentils, chickpeas, wool, mohair, honey and peanuts. The farmers must comply with conservation and wetland protection requirements, report how they use the crop-growing portions of their farms, have beneficial financial interest in the loan commodity on the date the loan is issued and  retain that interest while the loan is repaid. They must also make sure that their commodities meet minimum FSA standards until the loan is fully repaid.

The marketing assistance loans must be repaid no later than ten months after they are issued. There are no pre-payment penalties. If the borrower can prove that he or she suffered significant financial losses, FSA will waive interest and other extra charges. However, this does not apply if the farmers' commodity is ELS (extra long staple) cotton.

The marketing assistance loans have fixed rates that are based on the year the loan is issued, the type of commodity the borrowing farmer produces, the county he or she resides in and the county where the commodity is stored. The Commodity Credit Corporation has the right to adjust those rates depending on the quality of the crops.

Not-Recourse vs Recourse Commodity Marketing Assistance Loans

The marketing assistance loans are divided into two categories: non-recourse marketing assistance loans and recourse marketing assistance loans. The two groups are distinguished by how the loans can be repaid. With a non-recourse loan, a portion of the commodity a farmer produces becomes collateral. The collateral must be approved by the Commodity Credit Corporation. If the farmer can't afford to repay the loan, he or she can deliver the collateral to the local Commodity Credit Corporation office, and he or she won't owe FSA anything else. With the recourse marketing assistance loans, the commodity can't be used as collateral.

Applying For Marketing Assistance Loans

FSA allows farmers to apply for marketing assistance loans in several different ways. They can get the required forms from their local FSA office, fill them out and mail them back. They can download the forms from FSA's website, fill them out (either by hand or online) and mail them to their local FSA office. Finally, they can fill them out online and submit them electronically.

In order to apply electronically, farmers must create a US Department of Agriculture eAuthentication Account. They can do it by visiting FSA's official website and clicking on the "online services" tab in the upper bar (right beneath the site banner). They will then be taken through a multi-step application process. Applicants should have their financial documents and Social Security cards on hand before they begin to apply.