Bill would ease bankruptcy for farmers

FRITZ MAYER
Posted 4/24/19

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bill introduced by Congressman Antonio Delgado and five of his colleagues on April 19 would make it easier for struggling farmers to go through Chapter 12 bankruptcy and …

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Bill would ease bankruptcy for farmers

Posted

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bill introduced by Congressman Antonio Delgado and five of his colleagues on April 19 would make it easier for struggling farmers to go through Chapter 12 bankruptcy and reorganize debt.

Delgado said in a press release, “For folks in Upstate New York, farming is more than a job—it’s a way of life. And in this extremely challenging farm economy, we must come together to help our family farmers overcome years of low prices and increased market consolidation. The Family Farmer Relief Act will provide the critical restructuring and repayment flexibility these folks need to get through these hard times without permanently closing their operations.”

The bill, which is a companion bill to legislation introduced in the Senate, extends the debt cap for farms to be eligible for Chapter 12 from $3.27 million to $10 million. The change recognized the increase in land values and the growth of the average size of U.S. farms.

“The financial choices that family farmers are faced with right now are gut-wrenching, and given the continued slump in the farm economy, this bill will give those farmers and ranchers additional options when it comes to restructuring their debt and trying to figure out a way to keep operating,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson.

The legislation is endorsed by the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union. “Our farmer members have experienced several consecutive years of weak commodity prices and the low profitability and poor farm income that follow. As a result, farmers and ranchers are watching their equity erode as their debt-to-asset ratios climb and debt financing reaches a 30-year high. The double-whammy of record farm debt and poor economic conditions has led many farmers to seek Chapter 12 bankruptcy as a debt relief and restructuring option,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

Disaster loans available

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated numerous counties in New York and Pennsylvania as primary natural disaster areas due to excessive precipitation. Farmers in Sullivan, Orange and Ulster in New York, and Wayne and Pike in Pennsylvania are eligible for emergency loans.

The loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.

The deadline to apply for the loans is Dec. 10, 2019.

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