As Congress considers measures to rebuild and reinvest in America, Farm Aid strongly urges they not forget our nation's farmers and ranchers. As we enter the 2009 growing season, prices for farm products have decreased, while the cost of producing a crop has increased. The availability of affordable, long-term credit that farmers rely on to buy seeds, feed and other farm inputs is tightening, putting their businesses and their homes further at risk.

American family farmers are the backbone of the nation and the first rung on the economic ladder. When farms thrive, Main Street businesses and local communities thrive. Family farmers grow high quality food, are active in civic life and are essential to the economic vitality of both their hometowns and the nation. Supporting diverse decentralized family farming is necessary to the stability and vitality of our country. If we lose even one family farmer or make it increasingly difficult for new or beginning farmers to get on the land, our economy suffers. But when we keep farmers thriving and put new farmers on the land, we have an opportunity to ensure that our economy actually grows.

To secure the financial future of family farmers and local economies nationwide, we urge Congress to incorporate these recommendations into the second installment of TARP funding and in the development of ARRA.

  • Require banks receiving federal funds to follow the same mandates outlined for Farm Service Agency, which require loan restructuring when farmers are unable to make scheduled payments due to circumstances beyond their control. Because most family farmers live on their farms, their homes are listed as security for farm loans. Extending loan protections to family farmers would prevent home foreclosures and bankruptcy without an additional investment from the federal government.

  • Include increased funding for direct and guaranteed loans as outlined in the Senate version of ARRA and include mandates to ensure these loans are not used for the construction or expansion of specialized hog or poultry production facilities.

  • Require that USDA quickly implement disaster program funding that was approved in the 2008 Farm Bill to provide payments to those farmers affected by natural disasters in 2007 and 2008, making more relief available for farm families.

Click here to read Farm Aid’s complete recommendations.