A bipartisan group of House members last week introduced the Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 to ease the process of reorganizing debt through Chapter 12 bankruptcy rules.
The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-N.Y., House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Reps. TJ Cox, D-Calif., Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D. and Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.
“For folks in upstate New York, farming is more than a job — it’s a way of life,” Delgado said.
“And in this extremely challenging farm economy, we must come together to help our family farmers overcome years of low prices and increased market consolidation. The Family Farmer Relief Act will provide the critical restructuring and repayment flexibility these folks need to get through these hard times without permanently closing their operations.”
The bill, which is the House companion to legislation introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Doug Jones, D-Ala., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Tina Smith, D-Minn., expands the debt cap that can be covered under Chapter 12 bankruptcy from $3.237 million to $10 million.
The changes reflect the increase in land values, as well as the growth over time in the average size of U.S. farming operations and are meant to provide farmers additional options to manage the downturn in the farm economy, the coalition said in a news release.
The legislation is endorsed by the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union.
“The financial choices that family farmers are faced with right now are gut-wrenching, and given the continued slump in the farm economy, this bill will give those farmers and ranchers additional options when it comes to restructuring their debt and trying to figure out a way to keep operating,” said Peterson.
The bill will be referred to the Judiciary Committee for consideration.