House Passes Delgado’s Bipartisan Legislation to Ease Chapter 12 Bankruptcy Rules for Family Farmers

July 26, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, the U.S. House passed Representative Antonio Delgado’s (NY-19) bipartisan legislation, H.R. 2336, the Family Farmer Relief Act, introduced with 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.), which would ease the process of reorganizing debt through Chapter 12 bankruptcy rules. Rep. Delgado previously testified before the House Judiciary Committee on this bipartisan legislation, and applauded its bipartisan passage through the Committee.

Following passage Rep. Delgado said, “Farming in Upstate New York is a way of life and the current down turn in the farm economy threatens this time-honored tradition for thousands of family farms in my district. Today, I am proud the House voted to pass the Family Farmer Relief Act which will bring relief to struggling family farmers and allow them the flexibility to continue operations. This legislation was a bipartisan, cooperative effort from the beginning and I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for joining me to champion this important cause. I urge its swift passage in the Senate.”

Below is a video and excerpts of Rep. Delgado’s remarks urging passage of the bill:

 

image002.png@01D54310.07441DE0

Click here to watch Rep. Delgado’s full remarks here.

 

Prior to passage, Rep. Delgado spoke on the Floor urging bipartisan support for the legislation, saying, “Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of my bill: the Family Farmer Relief Act.  I rise to urge bipartisan support for a bipartisan priority: relief for family farmers. Passing the H.R. 2336 will make our nation’s bankruptcy laws for farmers reflective of today’s economy and better represent the experiences of our nation’s farmers. I’m proud to represent New York’s 19th Congressional District, which stretches nearly 8,000 square miles, is made up of 11 counties, and includes the beautiful Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains. NY-19 is the eighth most rural district in the country, and the third most rural represented by a Democrat.  It’s also home to nearly 5,000 farms and over 8,000 farm operators.  The last USDA Ag Census found that 96% of the farms in my district are family-owned. These family owned farms—both in NY-19 and across the country—are facing alarming rates of foreclosure during this down farm economy.

He described the downturn in the farm economy, and its impact on family farmers in New York’s 19th District and across the country. “This is the 5th year on record of declining net farm income; prices are low, inputs are high, and current trade policies make the future for farms unknown. 2018 marked the fourth consecutive year of rising bankruptcy rates as a proportion of the farm population. This farm economy is exacerbated by an outdated bankruptcy filing cap that leaves farmers without options to restructure or repay their debt. Chapter 12 was created specifically to provide repayment flexibility and reorganizational advantages for family farms during poor economic times. Unfortunately, this outdated debt cap has rendered Chapter 12 an inaccessible tool to thousands of farm families.”

“Mr. Speaker, the numbers tell the story here: According to the National Farm Bureau, last year, just 498 farms filed for Chapter 12 bankruptcy. By comparison: 766,000 consumers filed under Chapters 7 and 13. Over the last ten years, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 have seen 10 million total filings; compared to just 5,000 Chapter 12 filings.  Mr. Speaker, we must do more. The Family Farmer Relief Act’s solution is simple. My one-sentence bill would adjust the debt cap to align with today’s land values and the cost of doing business for today’s farmers. Our legislation modifies Chapter 12 bankruptcy rules to raise the debt cap for eligibility to $10 million. This adjustment will provide farmers additional options to manage the current farm economy, and allow farmers to retain assets and remain operational. Allowing farmers increased flexibility is critical to the health and wellness of our family farmers and the Upstate economy at large,” Rep. Delgado said.

###