WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, on Monday reintroduced the Student Loan Forgiveness for Farmers and Ranchers Act, legislation to create a loan forgiveness program for beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as women, veteran, and minority farmers. Student loan debt is a major hurdle for beginning farmers, and this legislation would serve as an incentive for farmers to enter—and stay—in the agricultural industry, and strengthen opportunities to grow successful businesses. U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) co-sponsored the legislation.

“Starting and maintaining a new farm is tough, expensive work. Too often, young farmers are saddled with thousands in student loan debt and can’t afford to make the investments necessary for success. Connecticut farms are key to the health of our rural communities and the future of food security, and this legislation would help more people start and stay in farming,” said Murphy.

"The Student Loan Forgiveness for Farmers and Ranchers Act provides a path out of debt for many young and beginning farmers who haven't been able to see one before. Held back by existing debt making financing complicated-- on top of climate crisis, input, and living costs-- passing this act will open the possibility of becoming a full-time farmer and/or rancher to many who would be, but for having repayment of existing loans in their way. National Young Farmers Coalition supports Senator Murphy's commitment to easing some of the unprecedented debt burden currently hindering our next generation of food growing to feed our communities and protect the land as its stewards,” said Vanessa Garcia Polanco, Policy Campaigns Co-Director, National Young Farmers Coalition.

In Connecticut, approximately 30% of producers are considered “beginning farmers,” meaning they are operating a farm with less than 10 years of experience.