Treasurer rolls out Farm Relief Loan program

Emily O'Leary/Fulton Sun Missouri State Treasurer Vivek Malek announces a new $100 million loan program aimed at helping farmers overcome drought on Wednesday.

The Missouri State Treasurer's Office launched a new loan program Wednesday to provide relief to farmers affected by recent drought.

The Farm Relief Loan program will be similar to the MOBUCK$ program, with eligible loans having interest rates lowered by 2-3 percent. The specific interest rate will vary by lender, and factors including credit score and credit rating, according to the Treasurer's Office. Loans will be offered for one year.

"Lately, farmers in Missouri have been hit by one setback after another," Missouri State Treasurer Vivek Malek said.

On top of recent drought, other challenges farmers have faced have included flooding, the COVID-19 pandemic and "sky-rocketing input costs" over the past few years.

Farmers who are eligible for the Farm Relief Loan program must reside in a county that has a "moderate" or worse drought status and "must demonstrate economic losses due to drought conditions."

Callaway County is included in the program.

The program will be capped at $100 million, with an individual cap at $1 million per borrower. However, Malek said most of the loans will be under the $1 million limit.

"We want to reach out to as many farmers as possible with the program," Malek said.

Funding for the Farm Relief Loan program will come from matured MOBUCK$ loans.

Applications for MOBUCK$ closed in May, due to high demand for the progam -- and to prevent loans from exceeding the program's cap of $800 million. The Treasurer's Office hopes to expand the cap to $1 billion, Malek said. MOBUCK$ applications are anticipated to reopen in January.

Those interested in participating in the Farm Relief Loan program will need to contact their lender to apply for the program. The application window will close Oct. 13 or when funding is depleted.

The Farm Relief Loan program is in response to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's executive order from May, declaring a drought alert statewide. Malek said 107 counties "are heavily affected by this drought."

"This is how my office, in a small way, will provide relief for these farmers," Malek said.