For Immediate Release: October 28, 2019
Contact:David Ade, 202.225.2911 or David.Ade@mail.house.gov
Finkenauer, Crawford Introduce Bill to Help New and Beginning Farmers
Bipartisan Farmers’ Access to Resources and Machinery (FARM) Act would make low-interest financing options more accessible
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (D-IA-01) and Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR-01) introduced the Farmers’ Access to Resources and Machinery (FARM) Act.
The legislation builds on the success of the state-level Aggie Bond program and makes common-sense improvements that will increase beginning farmers’ access to the financing they need. Specifically, the bill will increase the amount of financing that can be used towards farm improvements and equipment. It also updates the eligibility requirements for the program to make them more consistent with the standards used by US Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.
“In order to ensure our farming heritage stays alive, we need to encourage our younger generation to carry on the tradition and make sure we’re setting them up for success,” Congresswoman Finkenauer said, “Farmers are already dealing with expensive production costs and low prices, which are being made significantly worse by the ongoing trade war with China, so we need to knock down the barriers where we can. I’m grateful that my colleagues across the aisle are joining me to help ensure Iowa’s young farmers have access to money that can help them get their start.”
Congressman Crawford said, “Our farmers are critical to our national security, ensuring our nation can feed and clothe itself. Unfortunately, the American farmer is slowly becoming an endangered species, with the average producer age at 57.5 years. Aggie Bonds will enable young farmers to access needed financing, giving them a chance to build their own businesses and participate in the one of the world’s oldest and most important vocations. Agriculture is the backbone of rural America and I will continue working to strengthen this industry and ensure its longevity.”
The bipartisan FARM Act is supported by the National Young Farmers Coalition, Iowa Pork Producers, and Iowa Soybean Association.
“Land access and affordability are consistently ranked as among the top challenges for young farmers and ranchers, and aggie bonds are an important tool in providing workable financing options for land purchases,” said Sophie Ackoff, National Young Farmers Coalition Co-Executive Director. “We applaud Representatives Finkenauer and Crawford for introducing the FARM Act to expand access to bond-funded loans and for their support of beginning farmers and ranchers.”
The bipartisan FARM Act’s original cosponsors are: Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03), Rep. Dave Loebsack (IA-02), Rep Steve Watkins (KS-02), and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01).
Background on the Coauthors:
Congresswoman Finkenauer is the chairwoman of the Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship subcommittee. Introduction of the FARM Act is also part of Finkenauer’s “Fighting for Iowa’s Farmers & Rural Way of Life” plan, where “Support New and Beginning Farmers” is one of the plan’s key pillars.This summer, the Congresswoman brought Jason Grimm, a specialty crop farmer from Williamsburg, Iowa, to Congress to share his story about the unique challenges he faces as a young farmer. He highlighted the difficulties that he faces accessing land and capital, as well as the burden of his student loan debt.
Congressman Crawford is a member of the House Agriculture Committee. He also served as a conferee during both the 2014 and 2018 FarmBills. As a representative for the nation’s largest rice producing district, he is familiar with the financial struggles a farmer faces. Congressman Crawford is an advocate for farmers and has played a role in financing programs for farmers such asthe Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Stewardship Program, and creating the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).