By Derric Cushman, USDA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) has made it easier for America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to make their payments instantly with a debit card or Automated Clearing House (ACH) debit. Producers are now able to instantly make payments toward their farm loan repayment, measurement service fees, farm program debt repayment, administrative service fees, and purchasing aerial maps.
“Our customers have spoken, and we’ve listened,” says Bill Northey, USDA’s Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “Now, our customers can make electronic payments instantly by stopping in our offices or calling over the phone.”
Although FSA will continue to accept payments such as paper checks and money orders, offering these new paperless payment options will improve the level of convenience and customer service to our producers.
“At USDA, we’re focused on modernization to improve customer service,” says Northey. “If half of our customers use these new payment options, we’ll see a $1 million savings in one year. These new payment methods are one part of a much larger effort to expand options for our customers, as well as to make our services more effective and efficient.”
Do you remember your payments are due while riding on your tractor in the middle of a field? Or while herding sheep or cows? We’ve got you covered! With FSA now accepting debit card and ACH debit payments over the phone, it is now more convenient than ever to make a same-day payment from anywhere.
It’s free and secure: protecting your financial data and personal information is a top priority. The payments are made through Pay.gov, the U.S. Treasury’s online payment hub that accepts electronic payment options directly from your bank account.
FSA county office staff have already received feedback from farmers and ranchers on how the new payment options are having a positive impact on their customer service experience.
“The convenience of the new payment options really rang true when a disabled veteran customer of ours, who had always found writing checks and mailing them in very challenging, called today and gave me his debit card information. Things worked very smoothly, and I sent him a receipt for the transaction. It was so nice—for both of us,” says Annette Von Bargen, Farm Loan Program Technician in Idaho. “We’re excited to have this option.”
Dairy operations owner Scott Laca of Fallon, Nev., shared his opinion on the new payment options now available to FSA customers. “Using my debit card is so much more convenient,” says Laca a beginning farmer and FSA customer. “Not having to call ahead for a payoff amount for that day, or go into the office first, then go home to print a check and return to the office the same day will save me so much time.”
What Payments Cannot Be Accepted?
Unfortunately, there are certain payment types that FSA cannot accept through debit card or ACH payments at this time:
- Farm storage facility loan repayments
- Farm loan facility fees
- Marketing assistance loan repayments
- Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) administrative fees and premium
- Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) fee payments