I have worked for the US Department of Agriculture since 1982. I am a computer specialist working out of the St. Louis offices who provide finance and computer support to the Rural Development and Farm Loan program field offices in every Congressional district in rural America. We support the following programs, among others:
Farm loans – Real estate loans to help farmers, including beginning farmers and socially disadvantaged farmers, to buy land to get into farming or expand their operations. Operating loans to help farmers pay for their seeds and other inputs and get through the year until they can sell their crops or animals and repay the loans. And sometimes there are emergency loan programs as part of our response to disasters.
Rural Housing loans – Home ownership loans to enable very low-to-moderate income rural Americans to buy homes, or repair homes, or refinance private sector loans when they are not able to do that in the private sector. Our home ownership program has helped build over 2 million homes in rural America and created thousands of jobs in the process. Without these loan programs, there could be no Self-Help housing where very low-income families, including many minorities, are able to build their own homes, adding their sweat equity to the financial equity.
Rural Rental loans, grants, and rental assistance – to support multi-family rental housing in rural communities for very low-income people, especially senior citizens and the disabled.
Other Rural Development programs include the waster and water loans and grants, business and industry loans and grants, rural broadband loans and grants – all supporting rural communities who are left out of the “Wall Street” finances.
Our programs exist because the private sector has proved incapable of providing the credit that rural Americans need, so Congress has determined that our programs are inherently government functions.
Personally, I currently provide the computer programming support for our Farm Loan data mart loan making and loan servicing programs which help our field offices to make sure we are responding in a timely manner to applications for assistance, including to women and minorities, and to also make sure we provide timely assistance when borrowers are having financial difficulties.
Many of my co-workers are planning to leave government early if the Congress approves the many cuts being proposed to our pay and benefits. If this happens, the government will lose their experience and knowledge, and this will have a significant negative impact on USDA’s ability to support very low to moderate income rural Americans in every state in the country.
AFGE Local 3354
US Department of Agriculture, Missouri