Hudson Valley farmers are getting a lifeline in part of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act, which just passed the U.S. House of Representatives.
The provision, known as the Relief For America’s Small Farmers Act, would wipe clean some longstanding debts.
What You Need To Know
- Almost any farmer with a loan through the federal Farm Service Agency (FSA) will receive debt forgiveness of up to $150,000 under part of the Build Back Better Plan
- The bill must still pass the U.S. Senate and receive the president’s signature
- Congressman Maloney expects the legislation to be signed into law before the December holidays
Christopher Pawelski told Spectrum News 1 Tuesday that he and other farmers in Orange County’s Black Dirt Region are struggling to pay off their government loans.
“I can’t sleep at night,” he said. “I’m serious about that. It’s a huge amount of debt that we have.”
Pawelski Farms, started in 1908 by Pawelski’s great-grandfather, has been battered over recent years by hurricanes, and more recently by pandemic-related losses.
“You can’t secure loans anywhere else,” Pavelski said. “You’re kind of stuck to where you’re at unless you have some kind of boom series of years.”
Change is coming, though. Local farmers helped craft it.
Pawelski welcomed several colleagues and U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney to his farm Tuesday to announce that a debt relief program for farmers made it into the Build Back Better plan.
Almost any farmer with a loan through the federal Farm Service Agency (FSA) will receive debt forgiveness of up to $150,000, Maloney said, and farmers who are suffering more severely will be eligible for full forgiveness of much larger debt.
Maloney and Pawelski said the “shot in the arm” will be good for the supply chain and good for the future of small farmers.
Maloney estimates 1,000 farmers will receive this relief.
“It’s hard for young farmers to get going,” Maloney said of family-owned farms. “This is part of the idea — to make it work again for lots of our family farmers.”
“What’s nice about this is, this is targeted … for small operations,” Pawelski said of the loan forgiveness program. "Not something you normally see — so it’s incredibly gratifying.”
The bill must still pass the U.S. Senate and receive the president’s signature. Maloney all but guaranteed that the loan forgiveness program will be included in the final, signed version.
He expects the legislation to be signed into law before the December holidays.
“This provision’s going to survive in the legislation that gets out of the Senate,” Maloney said. “If it doesn’t, you’re going to hear me scream.”