U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Chris Murphy Introduce Bill to Forgive Student Loan Debt for Beginning Farmers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) reintroduced the Student Loan Forgiveness for Farmers and Ranchers Act, legislation to create a loan forgiveness program for beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as women, veteran, and minority farmers. Student loan debt is a major hurdle for beginning farmers, and this legislation would incentivize farmers to enter—and stay—in the agricultural industry, and strengthen opportunities to grow successful businesses.

The average age of a farmer in the United States is 58 years old. Smith and Murphy’s legislation will reduce barriers for young, diverse farmers hoping to take over as the current generation of farmers and producers begin to retire.

“To keep Minnesota’s agriculture economy thriving, we need to continue to invest in the next generation of farmers as the average age of farmers keeps going up. There is more we can be doing to help future farmers fill their shoes,” said Senator Smith. “Student debt is one of the most significant challenges our young farmers and ranchers face. This legislation would help encourage a younger, more diverse workforce and help more people start and stay in farming.”

“Connecticut farmers have always been the lifeblood of our rural communities, but starting and maintaining a new farm is increasingly unaffordable for young people who are often saddled with student loan debt and can’t afford to make additional investments necessary for success. By helping new farmers pay off their student loans, this legislation would pave the way for Connecticut’s next generation of farmers,” said Senator Murphy.

Senator Smith also leads the Increasing Land Access, Security, and Opportunities Act, legislation that would increase access to capital for underserved farmers, boost training and economic opportunity for beginner farmers, and help make land more affordable for young and Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) farmers.