"The federal government provides credit assistance to farmers to help assure adequate and reliable lending in rural areas, particularly for farmers who cannot obtain loans elsewhere. Federal farm loan programs also target credit to beginning farmers and socially disadvantaged groups. The primary federal lender to farmers, though with a small share of the market, is the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Congress funds FSA loans with annual discretionary appropriations--about $90 million of budget authority and $317 million for salaries--to support $8 billion of new direct loans and guarantees. FSA issues direct loans to farmers who cannot qualify for regular credit and guarantees the repayment of loans made by other lenders. FSA thus is called a lender of last resort. Of about $374 billion in total farm debt, FSA provides about 2.6% through direct loans and guarantees about another 4%-5% of loans."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21977