Relief for America’s Small Farmers Act Introduced
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has introduced the Relief for America’s Small Farmers Act. The bill will provide direct relief to small farmers to help alleviate debt, protect vulnerable farmers, and help farmers get back on their feet and continue farming. The bill is co-sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ).
“Small farms are the backbone of rural economies and our food systems in Oregon and nationwide,”said Senator Wyden. “The COVID-19 crisis has magnified many of the hardships family farmers were facing even before the pandemic, leaving many struggling to stay afloat. Congress can do more to help family farmers, and the Relief for Small Farmers Act will ensure they receive the support they need.”
The Relief for America’s Small Farmers Act acknowledges the impact of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) for small businesses but suggests that small farms have been neglected and excluded from current relief programs. The Relief for America’s Small Farmers Act is intended to provide the support our small farmers need during this time as they see their operations severely injured due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While Congress has passed many laws since the beginning of the pandemic to aid our nation’s farmers, they simply did not go far enough to sustain small farmers through this difficult time; farmers need urgent and direct loan forgiveness so they can pay their workers, upgrade equipment, and keep food on American tables,” Gillibrand said. “I will fight to include this legislation in the upcoming infrastructure package to make certain our farmers are not left behind.”
The bill allows farmers who have had to sit out of farming seasons over the past 5 years to be eligible for this relief and gives farmers a 1-year window to apply for the debt relief and farmers who do receive the relief must be actively engaged in farming for 2 years after receiving the loan forgiveness. The relief can be applied to shared loans and loans of any price tag, even default loans.
Gillibrand introduced a similar bill last year that was referred to the Committee on Finance but did not gain traction. The Relief for America’s Small Farmers Act has been endorsed by over 100 farm and agriculture advocacy organizations, including the National Family Farm Coalition, the Rural Coalition, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Farmer Veteran Coalition, the National Young Farmers Coalition, and World Farmers Incorporated.