WASHINGTON [12/20/22] – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, helped reintroduce legislation she co-sponsors to create a loan forgiveness program for beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as women, veteran, and minority farmers. The Student Loan Forgiveness for Farmers and Ranchers Act, which is led by U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and also cosponsored by Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), would serve as an incentive for farmers to enter – and stay – in the agricultural industry and boost opportunities to grow successful businesses.
“Agriculture is the backbone of Minnesota’s diverse economy. But the average age of our workforce is getting older, and we need to be doing more to help the next generation fill their shoes,” said Smith. “Student debt is a major hurdle for younger and beginning farmers. This legislation would help incentivize a younger, more diverse workforce and help more people start and stay in farming. I’ll keep working to get this bill across the finish line.”
“The Student Loan Forgiveness for Farmers and Ranchers Act provides a path out of debt for many young and beginning farmers who haven’t been able to see one before. Held back by existing debt making financing complicated– on top of climate crisis, input, and living costs– passing this act will open the possibility of becoming a full-time farmer and/or rancher to many who would be, but for having repayment of existing loans in their way. National Young Farmers Coalition supports Senator Murphy’s commitment to easing some of the unprecedented debt burden currently hindering our next generation of food growing to feed our communities and protect the land as its stewards,” said Vanessa Garcia Polanco, Policy Campaigns Co-Director, National Young Farmers Coalition.
Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the agriculture sector is only expected to grow two percent—lower than the average across other industries. Additionally, the average age of workers in the agriculture industry is climbing, and not enough younger workers are filling their shoes. Farmers under the age of 35 now make up only 9% of the agriculture workforce.
You can access the full text of the bill here.