Delgado, Hayes Introduce Bill To Support Upstate Farmers During COVID-19
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) and Rep. Jahana Hayes (CT-05), announced the introduction of H.R. 8042, the Helping America’s Farmers Act. H.R. 8042 would create a new economic injury disaster loan program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), and allow farmers access to the capital they need with terms and requirements that fit their businesses. This legislation is endorsed by the National Milk Producers Federation, the New York Farm Bureau, the Dairy Farmers of America, and others.
Rep. Delgado led efforts to ensure small farmers are eligible for EIDL loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Despite this important step, the program is not designed for farmers’ specific needs. The Helping Small Farmers Act would create an Agriculture Economic Injury Disaster Loan (AEIDL) run through the FSA specifically designed for agricultural producers including horticulture, nursery crops, floriculture, non-specialty crops, wool, livestock, dairy, aquaculture, or specialty crops. Like the EIDL program, farmers who apply will receive a $20k grant upon submission of application that does not need to be paid back. AEIDL loan terms, however, would be much more flexible and favorable than those offered under SBA’s program.
“Our family farmers across upstate were already facing a difficult farm economy that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, federal programs targeting small businesses and farm operations have fallen far short of meeting the dire needs of our family farmers. That’s why I am proud to introduce this bill that will finally deliver the support farmers need to overcome this pandemic – a program that provides immediate relief paired with low- or no-interest loans with flexible terms for repayment or forgiveness. The Helping America’s Farmers Act would finally ensure our farmers are able to access funding and support tailored to their specific needs,” said Rep. Antonio Delgado, member of the Agriculture Committee. “Recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will require short-term solutions and long-term assistance for our farmers. I will keep listening to our agriculture community to make sure future relief and legislation includes their needs and concerns.”
“Connecticut’s agricultural industry is the backbone of our state’s economy, but our farmers are really hurting,” said Rep. Hayes. “While farmers are currently eligible for Small Business Administration loans, the SBA is just not designed to adequately serve them. The Farm Service Agency is, and this new program will allow them to administer a loan program that gets our farmers the help they so desperately need. This bill would also inject much needed help into the FSA to allow them to hire and train more staff. I am grateful to Rep. Delgado, Connecticut Agriculture Commissioner Hurlburt, Connecticut Farm Bureau President Tuller, and the rest of our endorsing organizations for their partnership on this bill.”
“As farmers continue to feel the impact of COVID-19 on their operations, it is imperative that assistance programs provide targeted support that meets the needs of farmers. An economic injury loan program that was administered by the Farm Service Agency, an agency already familiar with farm operations, would provide both the technical and financial assistance that New York farmers need. Now more than ever, it is imperative that programs be easy to understand and fit the structure of farm operations,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President.
The Helping America’s Farmers Act would create a new economic injury disaster loan program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. The bill includes:
- $10 billion for direct loans through FSA;
- $10 billion for guaranteed loan program through FSA approved lenders; and
- $300 million for the administration of the program, as well as training of new staff.
Under the new loan program, applicants would also be eligible for a $20,000 grant upon application, and can seek forgiveness for their loan based on demonstrated economic hardship. Application priority is given to farmers and ranchers located in the areas hit hardest by an economic disaster, as well as minority, veteran and women-owned operations.
The Helping America’s Farmers Act is endorsed by the New York Farm Bureau, Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Connecticut Farm Bureau Association, Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association, Connecticut Nursery and Landscape Association, Dairy Farmers of America, and National Milk Producers Federation. Text of the Helping America’s Farmers Act can be found here.