Hayes Introduces Bill to Provide Relief to Farmers During Economic Crisis
WASHINGTON – Today, Representatives Jahana Hayes (CT-05) and Antonio Delgado (NY-19) announced the reintroduction of the Helping America’s Farmers Act, which would create a new loan program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to better serve farmers during economic crises. The legislation is endorsed by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Connecticut Farm Bureau Association, National Milk Producers Federation and Dairy Farmers of America. Representative Delgado is the Chairman of the Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit Subcommittee with jurisdiction over this legislation.
“Just like any other small business, Connecticut farmers have unique needs when an economic crisis hits. To ensure our farmers are well served in times of crisis, like COVID-19, it is imperative that there are economic injury loan programs available with expertise in agriculture and farm business. After hearing from farmers across Connecticut, and the nation, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I introduced the Helping America’s Farmers Act to ensure farmers have access to loans and expert assistance in times of unprecedented economic crisis,” said Congresswoman Hayes.
"Upstate family farmers have endured a challenging farm economy during the COVID-19 pandemic and still have managed to put food on our tables when families needed it most. While federal relief programs have helped many, too often, our smaller family-run farm operations are shut out from direct support," said Congressman Antonio Delgado.
The Helping America's Farmers Act provides low or no interest loans with flexible terms for repayment or forgiveness -- crucial assistance farmers need to overcome the pandemic. Congress must act to support our farmers as we recover from the pandemic and begin to build back stronger." 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 farmers continue to provide residents with high-quality, fresh, and local goods. The Helping America’s Farmers Act provides much needed parity that other small businesses have access to through other federal business support programs. This bill recognizes that agricultural production is a business, and should have similar support programs. I thank Congresswoman Hayes, and her colleagues, for their continued attention to this need and efforts to support our farm businesses,” said Connecticut Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt.
Representative Hayes and Delgado also introduced this legislation in the 116th Congress. On its first introduction, Representatives San Nicolas (GU-At Large), TJ Cox (CA-21), Chellie Pingree (ME-1), Anne Kuster (NH-2) and Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) joined as cosponsors.
The bill's text can be found here.
Congresswoman Jahana Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District. She was a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year.