Gillibrand Urges USDA to Implement Debt Relief Provisions for Struggling Farmers
WASHINGTON, D.C. - From dairy farms, to grape producers, farmers across the U.S. have been struggling with paying off loans to keep their farms afloat. We spoke with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D- NY) on how to address this.
Gillibrand said New York state is home to more than 30-thousand farms, but many of them have been struggling to pay back Farm Service Agency loans, which are designed to help farmers or ranchers get the money they need to start, maintain or expand a family farm.
“With weather challenges and staffing challenges, I've met a lot of farmers who just didn’t have anybody to pick their crops on time and that caused enormous waste,” said Gillibrand. “So they’re struggling and it’s every part of the state.”
To address this, Gillibrand said $3.1-billion in the Inflation Reduction Act would go towards relief for struggling farms. But she said there’s an issue in the IRA’s guidelines for this relief.
“Unfortunately, the Inflation Reduction Act didn’t lay out how the USDA would determine what farmers are eligible for this funding, which was a departure from my bill, the Relief for America Small Farmers Act, which defined eligible borrowers as those who an adjusted gross income of 300-thousand or less for the previous five years,” said Gillibrand. “By not defining who exactly would be eligible for the inflation reduction that creates the potential of countless small farms to be left out of the program initially designed to help them.”
We reached out to the New York Farm Bureau on this. They sent this statement:
“NYFB did not take a position on debt-relief for farmers based on feedback from our farmer members during our grassroots policy development process. We await USDA releasing final information regarding administration of the program and will share that information with New York farmers who wish to utilize the program.”
The Senator wants the Biden administration to clarify eligibility guidelines for this relief so the feds can give these farmers the help they need as soon as possible.
“This is a community that is central to our way of life and we need to make sure that every small farm is supported and valued for the invaluable role they play in our society and our economy,” said Gillibrand.