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The USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) serves as the nation's lender of last resort by providing direct loans to farmers unable to obtain credit at reasonable rates and terms. Annual loan losses have been substantial, averaging $576 million for fiscal 1994-2004. An econometric model using survey data from a sample of FSA loans originated in fiscal 1994-1996 is estimated to identify factors associated with loan losses. The results indicate previous debt settlement experience, loan type, farm type, farm size, and farm financial characteristics are important factors. This information may be used by FSA to adjust its underwriting standards in an effort to reduce loan losses and provide additional loans to farmers given its current funding.


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