WASHINGTON - Today, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) announced the introduction of H.R. 8042, the Helping America’s Farmers Act. This bill is co-led by Rep. Antonio Delgado (NY-19), and endorsed by Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Connecticut Farm Bureau Association, Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association, Connecticut Nursery and Landscape Association, Dairy Farmers of America, National Milk Producers Federation, and the New York Farm Bureau.
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 (FSA). The bill would appropriate:
- $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.
“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.”
“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. 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 farmers are doing all they can to stay in business and continue providing the state’s residents with high-quality, fresh, and local goods. COVID-19 has created market disruptions that requires additional assistance to support these small businesses as they navigate these hurdles. The Helping America’s Farmers Act provides the resources necessary for them to pivot to meet the new marketplace. Taking advantage of this USDA FSA loan programs is a smart way to tackle this challenge. I thank Congresswoman Hayes, and her colleagues, for their attention to this need and efforts to support our farm businesses,” said Connecticut Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt.
“The proposed Helping America’s Farmers Act provides much needed help for Connecticut farmers and farmers across America, for whom previously approved programs were not accessible or helpful enough. This legislation has been carefully crafted to get help where it is still critically needed,” said Don Tuller, President of the Connecticut Farm Bureau.
“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.
Text of the Helping America’s Farmers Act can be found here.
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Rep. Jahana Hayes has been a public-school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year.
Currently serving her first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District.