WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced an amendment to the Farm Bill to help farmers with student debt. Specifically, the bipartisan amendment would authorize a study of the impact student loan debt is having on farmers, especially beginning and underserved farmers. Too often, farmers are prevented from growing their farms or staying in the agricultural industry because of crushing student debt. The Farm Bill also includes a provision spearheaded by Udall and Inhofe based on their Farmers of Tomorrow Act to help beginning farmers with funding to buy a farm by equalizing the application process for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) farm ownership loans.
“Young people in Connecticut want to be able to stay here and raise a family. I’ve travelled across the state, talking with young farmers about their dreams of owning or expanding their own farms, but too often, crushing student loan debt is getting in the way. I teamed up with Senator Udall and Senator Inofe to introduce this amendment because figuring out the scope of the problem will help us support farmers. There’s more we need to do, like providing student loan forgiveness for new farmers, but this amendment is a good first step,” said Murphy.
“New Mexico needs young people to be able to come home and start their own farms and ranches – it’s critical to our rural communities and to the future of our way of life,” said Udall. “But too many young students and graduates are trapped in our country’s student loan debt crisis: They can’t afford not to go to college, but when they graduate, they can’t afford to come home and start farming or ranching. This bipartisan amendment will help us better understand and address the gravity of the student loan crisis and how it is affecting young and beginning farmers. I’ll keep working so that young people who are interested in farming and ranching can focus on investing in their futures and growing their businesses and our rural economy, without being held back by a mountain of college debt.”
Murphy and Udall previously introduced the Student Loan Forgiveness for Farmers and Ranchers Act, which creates a loan forgiveness program for beginning farmers and ranchers with less than 10 years of experience, as well as for other groups such as women, veterans, and minority farmers.