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Do farm service agency borrowers' double minority labels lead to more unfavorable loan packaging terms?

Jyotsna Ghimire (Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)
Cesar L. Escalante (Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)
Ramesh Ghimire (Department of Research and Analytics Division, Atlanta Regional Commission, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Charles B. Dodson (Department of Economic and Policy Analysis Staff, USDA/Farm Service Agency, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)

Agricultural Finance Review

ISSN: 0002-1466

Article publication date: 4 May 2020

Issue publication date: 5 October 2020




This study adds a new dimension in the study of racial and gender bias in farm lending. Most previous studies analyzed the separate effects of race and gender attributes on loan approval decisions. The analysis focuses on the stipulation of loan terms (loan amount, interest rate and maturity) among approved farm loan applications. The time period analyzed spans from 2004 until 2014 during which the government has undertaken reforms to improve delivery of loan services to its clientele of minority farmers. Thus, this study's findings could help validate the effectivity of such institutional reforms affecting Farm Service Agency (FSA) lending operations.


This study utilizes a national direct loan origination data from the FSA of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) collected from 2004 to 2014. The analysis begins by identifying significant differences in cross-tabulations of loan terms among different racial and gender classes. Seemingly unrelated regression (SUR) regression techniques are then applied for a system of equations involving the three loan packaging components. The combined effects of the prescribed loan packaging terms are subsequently analyzed under a simulation-optimization framework.


Regression results validate that indeed, relative to White American borrowers, certain minority borrowers are accommodated with lower loan amounts at higher interest rates and with shorter maturities. However, these decisions seem to be prompted by credit risk management considerations. The most compelling findings include the insignificance of all double minority labeling variables, except for the interest rate equation that even produced favorable results for Hispanic American females. Simulation-optimization results further reinforce that even when one or two unfavorable loan terms are included in the packaging, double minority borrowers end up with better profitability and liquidity positions.

Practical implications

This study provides a different perspective in dealing with the controversial minority bias in lending by presenting evidence gathered from a government farm lending institution. The USDA-FSA has been sued in numerous occasions by minority borrowers. Since then, however, it has deliberately implemented institutional reforms to rectify previous errors. This study provides empirical evidence strengthening FSA's claim of its intention to improve its delivery of loan services, especially for its socially disadvantaged borrowers with double minority classification.


This study pioneers the analysis of the double minority labeling effect on farm lending decisions. Its contributions to literature are further enhanced by its goal to validate the effectiveness of FSA institutional reforms undertaken since the early 2000s in order to improve credit access of and delivery of credit services to minority farm borrowers, especially those that belong to more than one minority classification.



Ghimire, J., Escalante, C.L., Ghimire, R. and Dodson, C.B. (2020), "Do farm service agency borrowers' double minority labels lead to more unfavorable loan packaging terms?", Agricultural Finance Review, Vol. 80 No. 5, pp. 633-646.



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