Delgado’s Bipartisan Family Farmer Relief Act Signed Into Law
KINGSTON, NY—Today, Representative Antonio Delgado’s bill to aid family farmers during downturns in the agriculture economy was signed into law by President Trump. H.R. 2336, The Family Farmer Relief Act, eases the process of reorganizing debt through Chapter 12 bankruptcy rules, a tool created specifically to help family farmers during tough economic times. Delgado introduced the legislation in April with support from House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), and Reps. TJ Cox (D-Calif.), Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.). This legislation passed the House on July 26, the Senate on August 2, and was signed into law today, August 23, 2019.
“Today is a victory for our small and mid-size farmers who now have the flexibility to reorganize their debt and continue operations in what continues to be a challenging time for agriculture. In this era of bitter partisanship, I was proud to lead my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass a bipartisan, commonsense bill to help small farmers in New York’s 19th Congressional District during this down farm economy. Today, the President signed the Family Farmer Relief Act into law—following bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.” Delgado continued, “I thank my bipartisan, bicameral partners for their work to move this legislation through the House and Senate and to bring this urgent relief to our farmers. While the Family Farmer Relief Act is an important first step—our work is not done. I will continue to fight for small and mid-size farmers across our region during this downturn in the farm economy.”
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said, “Farm Bureau is appreciative that the Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 is now law. This law relieves some of the uncertainty farmers are facing due to export market disruptions, weather events and declining farm income. It will help family farmers reorganize after falling on hard times by increasing the debt limit for relief eligibility under the Chapter 12 bankruptcy code. While this is a sobering reflection of the current state of the agricultural economy, we are grateful to Congress, the President and his administration for their prioritization of reforming our current bankruptcy laws.”
The Family Farmer Relief Act was introduced with a Senate companion led by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Doug Jones (D-AL), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Tina Smith (D-MN). The bill addresses an outdated debt cap of that limits eligibility for Chapter 12 bankruptcy relief and has essentially rendered the tool inaccessible to farmers today. Delgado’s bill expands the debt that can be covered under Chapter 12 from $3,237,000 to $10,000,000. The changes reflect the increase in land values, as well as the growth over time in the average size of U.S. farming operations and are meant to provide farmers additional options to keep their doors open during downturns in the farm economy. The legislation is endorsed by the American Farm Bureau, National Farmers Union, National Corn Growers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, the National Pork Producers Council, and the American Bankruptcy Institute.
As a member of the Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Small Business Committees, Delgado has prioritized bringing the voices of small farmers to Washington and assure passage of the Family Farmer Relief Act. Rep. Delgado introduced H.R. 2336, the Family Farmer Relief Act in April, and in June, gave testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on his bill and the plight of small farms today. Following that hearing, the bill passed out of committee before being voted favorably out of the full House last week. Rep. Delgado then worked with Sen. Grassley (R-IA) and Senate Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY) to secure its passage in the Senate prior to a month-long work period when both senators and representatives return home. The President signed the legislation into law today, August 23.
The 19th Congressional District is home to just under 5,000 farms and 96% of these farms are family-owned farms. Rep. Delgado represents the eighth most rural district in the country and the third most rural Democratic district. In his first seven months in office, Rep. Delgado has established and met with his Agriculture Advisory Committee, toured more than 22 farms, and sat down with local farmers across the district to hear about localized infrastructure, technology needs, and sustainable farming practices.