Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand
(D-NY), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are leading a Senate effort urging the
Obama administration to help reduce farm foreclosures as prices for
farmers have dropped dramatically in relation to the troubled economy.
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Treasury Secretary
Tim Geithner, the senators and fourteen of their colleagues called for
additional requirements for banks and other financial institutions that
have taken federal bailout funds to work with farmers to restructure
farm loans to help keep them in their homes and businesses.
conditions would mirror requirements that are already in place on farm
loans supported by the USDA Farm Service Agency and the requirements
being developed for home loans held by these same lenders that have
taken bailout funds. As Americans and businesses are feeling the
impact of the current economic troubles, farmers across the country are
particularly hard hit, with dairy prices and other farm prices having
plummeted in recent months.
“The global economic crisis has hurt Wisconsin’s farmers and our communities that depend on them,” Feingold said.
“Farms are both homes and businesses for many families in Wisconsin and
it is critical these families are receiving the resources they need. I
was glad to support funding in the economic recovery legislation to
provide additional direct farm loans and cover some of the costs of
restructuring loans. Requiring the firms that received a federal
bailout to work with farmers to restructure farm loans to avoid
foreclosure is the right thing to do and will help provide a firewall
against further negative impacts on the rural economy.”
is never easy, but more and more rural families are struggling to
survive in these tough times. We need to think creatively about how to
help these homes and businesses weather this economy, and we should be
sure that our rural communities are given the same consideration as the
banks who were helped when they needed it,” Kohl said.
“Family farms are the backbone of New York’s economy,” said Gillibrand,
a member of the Senate Agriculture and Nutrition Committee. “From
Colden in Western New York to Calverton on Long Island, families across
New York have been hit hard by the economic crisis. While we are trying
to keep New Yorkers in their homes, it is vital that we also help
families keep their farms. Giving farmers to ability to restructure
their loans is an important part of our economic growth.”
Feingold, Kohl, Gillibrand, and Brown on the letter are Senators
Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan
Collins (R-ME), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Carl Levin (D-MI), Blanche Lincoln
(D-AR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mark Pryor (D-AR),
Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI),
and Jon Tester (D-MT).
Over 60 agriculture organizations across the
country are supporting the senators’ efforts, including 55
organizations that sent a similar letter calling for more assistance
for farm foreclosures earlier in the week.
The effort to
encourage the Departments of Agriculture and Treasury to take action on
this critical issue has the support of over 60 organizations including
Dairy Farmers of America, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Midwest
Dairy Coalition, Missouri Rural Crisis Center, National Family Farm
Coalition, National Farmers Union, National Milk Producers Federation,
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Rural Advancement
Foundation International (RAFI-USA) and the Wisconsin Farmers Union.
A copy of the letter can be viewed here.