Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are leading a Senate effort to ensure farmers and rural businesses have access to the same assistance provided to small businesses by the administration’s jobs creation proposals. In a letter to President Barack Obama today, Feingold, Gillibrand and eleven other senators called on the administration to ensure farmers and rural businesses are a part of outreach and implementation of any jobs proposals since they are often also small businesses. Farmers and rural small businesses in rural locations often miss out on, or have difficulty accessing, assistance from the Small Business Administration (SBA), which often has offices located in urban areas. Making sure that agencies within the USDA such as the Farm Service Agency and Rural Development work with the SBA and other agencies is critical for making sure the proposals create and sustain jobs in rural America.
“New York’s farmers are a critical part of our economy and we must ensure their success,” said Senator Gillibrand, the first New York Senator in 40 years to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee. “In this economic crisis, we can’t afford to let our farm families be pushed any farther to the brink. If we’re going to rebuild this economy, we need to keep families on their farms. I will continue working to ensure farmers and rural businesses have access to the assistance in the administration’s jobs creation proposals so they are on track to succeed and grow for the long term.”
“As farmers and rural businesses struggle to obtain loans or credit to stay on their feet, the administration should make every effort to ensure family farmers and rural businesses are not left out of its efforts to create and sustain jobs,” Feingold said. “Farmers and other rural businesses deserve the same access to assistance that businesses in big cities do.”
The letter is supported by National Family Farm Coalition, National Farmers Union, National Milk Producers Federation, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Food and Water Watch, RAFI-USA, Wisconsin Farmers Union and Wisconsin Farm Bureau.
Feingold and Gillibrand have worked to shed light on the impact the economy is having on farmers and their ability to get credit and restructure loans. A report released in July requested by Feingold and Gillibrand confirmed the senators’ concerns that the worsening farm credit situation has made it increasingly difficult for farm families to stay on their farms and in their homes. In March, Feingold and Gillibrand led a group of senators in calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Treasury Department to require TARP recipients to implement a foreclosure mitigation program that includes loan restructuring for farmers, as they have already done for home loans.
Joining Feingold and Gillibrand were Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mark Udall (D-CO), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Al Franken (D-MN).
A copy of the Feingold-Gillibrand letter can be viewed here