Southern Tier Farmers Await Federal Debt Relief Action
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is urging the United States Department of Agriculture to act quickly on a part of the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act that would provide over three-billion dollars in economic relief for small farms.
Gillibrand, along with fellow Democrat, 18th District Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of the Hudson Valley sent a letter to the USDA Secretary urging the implementation of the debt relief package and to immediately clarify the eligibility guidelines.
The New York Democrats say the USDA currently needs time to design and implement a debt relief program, including eligibility requirements.
Maloney and Gillibrand say the longer it takes for the program to be put into place, the more economically-distressed farmers will be faced with making loan payments that put them at risk of defaulting or having to sell their farms.
The Senator and Congressman had introduced the Relief for America’s Small Farmers Act last year that defines eligible borrowers as those with an average annual adjusted gross income of $300,000 or less for the previous five years.
Representative Maloney says farmers in his district have been facing more challenges than ever and some are being forced to take on what he says are “unrealistic amounts of debt” to keep their farms operating.
Senator Gillibrand says many small farmers can’t afford to wait weeks or months for the systems to be put in place to relieve their debt burden.
The officials say as of 2019, farmers in New York held over $160-million in debt.