WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, Representatives Nikki Budzinski (IL-13), Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15), Joe Courtney (CT-02), and Monica De La Cruz (TX-15) introduced the Young Farmer Success Act, a bipartisan bill that would help America’s young farmers manage their student loan debt by making them eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The Young Farmer Success Act represents an important effort in preserving America’s agricultural economy and will ease the financial burden on young farmers.
“With agriculture as the number one economic driver in the state of Illinois, the success of our rural communities will depend on the next generation of family farmers,” said Congresswoman Budzinski. “As the representative for some of our nation’s leading agricultural education institutions, I’m proud to help introduce bipartisan legislation to make farm and ranch workers eligible for public service student loan forgiveness. This is a commonsense way to help bring more young people into the ag workforce and keep our rural economies strong.”
“The average age of a farmer in the United States is 57 years old. We must encourage our youth to enter the agriculture workforce and cultivate the next generation of farmers and ranchers,” said Congressman Thompson. “Without farm and ranch workers, our country will lose the ability to provide safe and affordable food to our citizens and the world. I am proud to introduce the Young Farmer Success Act with Reps. Courtney, De La Cruz and Budzinski. This bill offers incentives for individuals who want to work in agriculture, which enhances both our national security and the long-term viability of our nation.”
“We need to support a new generation of farmers now more than ever. Our number of small farms is on the decline, and the average age of American farmers is rising. There’s no doubt that experience is crucial for any farming business, but when the number of U.S. farmers over 65 outnumbers those under 35 by 6-to-1, that’s a trend we need to reverse,” said Congressman Courtney. “Susan Mitchell of Cloverleigh Farm in Connecticut has been the driving force behind this bill. She knows how student loan debt can hold a beginning farmer back from crucial investments in things like farming equipment, and our bipartisan bill would take some of that weight off their balance sheets during the costly phases of opening a new farming business. The Young Farmer Success Act would give America’s new farming generation a fighting chance to build a life on the farm for themselves and their families.”
“The family farm is no longer a staple of rural communities nationwide. To prevent the further loss of family farms, we must act to encourage young men and women to follow in the family business,” said Congresswoman De La Cru. “I am proud to co-sponsor the Young Farmer Success Act, which allows farmers to earn student loan forgiveness just like teachers and other professionals dedicated to public service. After all, if feeding America isn’t public service, what is? I hope this bill quickly passes the House and Senate and is signed into law.”
The Young Farmer Success Act has drawn additional support from organizations representing farmers and ranchers nationwide, including the Illinois Farm Bureau (ILFB), the National Farmers Union and the National Corn Growers Association.