U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy is coauthoring a bill that would forgive student debt for “beginner” farmers with less than 10 years experience, with U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney having introduced a similar bill in the House of Representatives.
The Student Loan Forgiveness for Farmers and Ranchers Act would be limited to farms producing at least $35,000 in annual income on the sale of produce, and would hold participants to other requirements such as minimum lengths of time they work in the farming industry; and being in good standing on existing loan payments. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) coauthored the Senate version of the bill with Murphy.
The legislation would allow oyster farming and other forms of aquaculture as qualifying under the program. According to Murphy’s office, one in four farm operators in Connecticut have less than 10 years experience, with the state having among the biggest increases in beginner farmers in the nation between 2007 and 2012 at 15 percent.