USDA launches OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative

By Erin Voegele | October 02, 2020

The USDA announced on Oct. 1 it is now accepting applications for its four key loan guarantee programs under the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative, which was launched earlier this year to make it easier for lenders to access those four loan programs.

“Rural America needs a mix of public and private partnerships and investments to build stronger, healthier communities,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is cutting red tape and streamlining private investment so we can be a better partner to America’s rural leaders in building prosperity, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

The agency issued a final rule for the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative on July 13. Additional information on rates and terms was released in late August.

The initiative relates to the Rural Energy for America Program, the Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees Program, the Community Facilities Guaranteed Loan Program, and the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program. The REAP program is of particular interest to those in the biofuels and bioenergy industry. It provides loan guarantees and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Solid biomass, biogas, and biofuel projects are among the renewable energy systems that are eligible for the program.

As part of the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative, the USDA said it is standardizing requirements for credit reviews, loan processing, loan servings and loss claims. The agency said these measures will make the application process simpler and faster for lenders. The changes include a common loan note guarantee application and consistent forms for lenders to use across the four programs.

In July, the agency also said it plans to issue loan note guarantees to lenders within 48 hours after they provide documentation to prove the requirements of the conditional commitment have been met. The USDA will also provide guarantee percentage and fee requirements to lenders through a single annual notice at the beginning of each fiscal year and allow lenders to obtain approval for a loan guarantee prior to the beginning of construction projects. The agency will also provide automatic approval to lenders in good standing who are supervised or created by state or federal regulatory agencies to participate in all four programs, while non-regulated lenders may seek approval to participate through a single certification process that will be valid for five years.

In the announcement issued Aug. 31, the USDA said that it is providing guarantee percentages, annual fees, periodic retention fees, and optional construction fees ahead of fiscal year 2021 to help lenders apply for the four impacted loan guarantee programs.

The USDA is hosting a webinar for lenders on Oct. 8 to answer questions about the new process under the initiative. Additional information is available on the USDA website