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e-CFR data is current as of July 10, 2020

Title 7Subtitle BChapter XVIIISubchapter HPart 1956Subpart B → §1956.57

Title 7: Agriculture
Subpart B—Debt Settlement—Farm Loan Programs and Multi-Family Housing

§1956.57   General provisions.

(a) Application of policies. All debtors are entitled to impartial treatment and uniform consideration under this subpart. Accordingly. FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 personnel charged with any responsibility in connection with debt settlement will adhere strictly to the authorizations, requirements, and limitations in this subpart, and will not substitute individual feelings or sympathies in connection with any settlement.

(b) Information needed for debt settlement. A debtor requesting debt settlement must submit complete and accurate information from which a full determination of his/her financial condition can be made. This should include, where applicable, but is not limited to, obtaining verification of employment, providing expense verification, verifying farm program benefits (e.g., Farm Service Agency/Commodity Credit Corporation payments), and examining county records to determine what other assets the debtor has or recently disposed of. When a FLP debtor is continuing to farm, a farm operating plan must be obtained. Also, where a spouse is not a co-debtor the spouse's income will be considered in meeting family living expenses. If it appears that a debtor will not be able to pay in full and the indebtedness is eligible for settlement under this subpart, action should be taken, if possible, to avoid unnecessary litigation to enforce collection. If the debt is eligible for settlement, the debt settlement authorities of FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 should be explained and the privileges thereof extended to the debtor. The information obtained from the debtor should be documented on a debt settlement form.

(c) Negotiating a settlement. County Supervisors may approve or reject compromises, adjustments, cancellations, or chargeoffs of SFH debts (to include recapture receivables), regardless of the amount. District Directors and County Supervisors cannot approve other debt settlement actions; therefore, other than SFH debt settlements, they will make no statements to a debtor concerning the action that may be taken upon a debtor's application. In negotiating a settlement, all of the factors which are pertinent to determining ability to pay will be discussed to assist the debtor in arriving at the proper type and terms of a settlement. The present and future repayment ability of a debtor, the factors mentioned in this subpart, and any other pertinent information will be the basis of determining whether the debt should be collected in full, compromised, adjusted, canceled, or charged off. It is impossible in cases eligible for debt settlement to forecast accurately the debtor's future repayment ability over a long period of time; consequently, the period of time during which payments on settlement offers are to be made should not exceed five years. Debtors have the right to make voluntary settlement offers in any amount should they elect to do so. Adjustment offers will not be approved in any case unless there is reasonable assurance that the debtor will be able to make the payments as they become due.

(d) Disposition of property. Security may be retained by the debtor only under the conditions specified in §1956.66 of this subpart.

(e) Proceeds from the disposal of security prior to approval of a debt settlement offer. A debtor is not required to have disposed of the security prior to application for debt settlement for a loan to be settled. However, if a debtor has disposed of security prior to applying for debt settlement, proceeds from the disposed security must first be applied on the debtor's account, irrespective of an application for debt settlement unless the conditions specified in §1956.66 of this subpart are met.

(f) [Reserved]

(g) Settlement when legal or investigative action has been taken, recommended, or is contemplated. (1) Debts cannot be settled:

(i) If the matter has been referred either to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) under §1962.49(a) of subpart A of part 1962 of this chapter or to Office of the General Counsel (OGC) because of suspected criminal violation, or criminal prosecution is pending because of an illegal act(s) committed by the debtor in connection with the debt or the security for that debt, the procedure outlined in paragraph (g)(3) of this section will be followed, unless, the OIG has declined to investigate the matter or, OGC has advised otherwise, or the case is in the hands of the United States Attorney.

(ii) If a request for referral to the United States Attorney to institute a civil action to protect the interest of the Government has been made by FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354.

(iii) Except as provided in paragraph (g)(3) of this section, if the case has been referred to the United States Attorney and is not closed.

(2) If a debtor's account is involved in a fiscal irregularity investigation in which final action has not been taken or the account shows evidence that a shortage may exist and an investigation will be requested, the account will not be approved for settlement.

(3) When a claim has been referred to, or a judgment has been obtained by the United States Attorney, and the debtor requests settlement, the employee in charge of the account will explain to the debtor that the United States Attorney has exclusive jurisdiction over the claim or judgment, that FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 has no authority to agree to a settlement offer when the United States Attorney's file is not closed, and that if the debtor wishes to make a compromise or adjustment offer when the United States Attorney's file is not closed, if will be submitted with any related payment directly to the United States Attorney for a decision on the settlement offer.

(h) Advice from OGC. State Directors will obtain, when necessary, advice from the OGC in handling proposed debt settlement actions which involve legal problems.

(i) Settlement of claims against estates. Settlement of a claim against an estate under the provisions of this subpart will be based on the recovery that may reasonably be expected, taking into consideration such items as the security, costs of administration, allowances of minor children and surviving spouse, allowable funeral expenses, and dower and courtesy rights, and specific encumbrances on the property having priority over claims of the Government.

(j) Joint debtors. Settlement may not be approved for one joint debtor unless approved for all debtors. “Joint debtors” includes all parties (individuals, partnerships, joint operators, cooperatives, corporations, estates) who are legally liable for payment of the debt.

(1) Separate and individual adjustment offers from joint debtors must be accepted and processed only as a joint offer. Joint debtors must be advised that all debtors will remain liable for the balance of the debt until all payments due under the joint offer have been made.

(2) A separate Form FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 1956-1 will be completed by each debtor, unless the debtors are members of the same family and all necessary financial information on each debtor can be shown clearly on a single application. Separate applications will be sent to the State Office as a unit.

(3) If one debtor applies for compromise, adjustment, or cancellation, or if the debt is to be charged off, and the other debtor(s) is deceased or has received a discharge of the debt in bankruptcy, or the whereabouts of the other debtor(s) is unknown, or it is impossible or impracticable to obtain the signature of the other debtor(s), Form FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 1956-1 or Form FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 1956-2 (for housing loans) “Cancellation or Charge-off of FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 Indebtedness,” will be prepared by showing at the top of the form the name of the debtor requesting settlement, following by the name of the other debtor.

For example, “John Doe, joint debtor with Bill Doe, deceased,” “John Doe, joint debtor with Sam Doe, discharged in bankruptcy,” “John Doe, joint debtor with Mary Doe, impossible or impracticable to obtain signature,” as appropriate. In addition to the information concerning settlement of the debt by the applicant, information which justifies settlement of the debt as to the debtor(s) not joining in the application will be shown on Form FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 1956-1, or 1956-2 for housing loans.

(k) Settlement where debtor owes more than one type of Agency loan. It is not the policy to settle any loan indebtedness of a debtor who is also indebted on another agency loan and who will continue as an active borrower. In such case, the facts will be fully documented in part VIII of Form RD 1956-1.

(l) No previous debt forgiveness. Debt settlement may not be approved for any direct Farm Loan Programs loan if the borrower has received debt forgiveness on any other direct loan as defined in §1956.54 of this subpart.

[56 FR 10147, Mar. 11, 1991, as amended at 58 FR 21344, Apr. 21, 1993; 62 FR 10157, Mar. 5, 1997; 68 FR 7700, Feb. 18, 2003]

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