With the current agricultural downturn that has seen commodity prices drop four straight years and net farm income to fall to its lowest level since 2002, it’s becoming a challenge for farmers to access affordable credit. That’s why I would like to thank Congressman Mike Bost for his efforts to improve the availability of credit to young farmers like me.
Bost’s Beginning Agriculturist Lifetime Employment Act would make long overdue changes to USDA’s guaranteed and direct loan programs by modernizing the loan limits on direct and guaranteed loans so they better reflect the cost or owning, expanding, or diversifying an agricultural enterprise. The BALE Act would double the direct loan cap to $600,000 and expand the guaranteed loan program to $2.5 million with flexibility for both borrower and lender on loans over $2.5 million. To be successful, we need to diversify our operations and that requires access to affordable credit.
In addition, the bill increases loan guarantees for qualified beginning farmers and doubles the direct loan cap to help many of us expand and diversify our farms. The farm economy has seen better days. Many of us who began farming in the last several years have recognized the need to diversity our farming operations if we plan to stay in the business as long as our parents and grandparents have.
The BALE Act will help farmers like me gain access to capital and overcome these challenging economic conditions so I can pass long my farm to the next generation.
Christopher Otten, St. Libory