Congressman Gibson introduces Young Farmer Success Act of 2015
June 3, 2015 -
Congressman Chris Gibson (NY-19) announced the introduction this week of the Young Farmer Success Act of 2015, legislation he authored to grow the ranks of farmers and safeguard American agriculture.
The bipartisan bill, which was introduced with original co-sponsor Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2), helps new and beginning farmers manage their student loan debt by adding them to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
“Much like teachers, doctors, nurses, and government employees who are already eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, farmers are public servants,” said Congressman Gibson. “Our farmers not only produce our food and fiber, they protect the landscape and generate substantial economic activity in every state. A self-reliant nation requires a vibrant agricultural sector, but student loan debt creates a significant barrier to getting started in farming. Our bill empowers young people to attend college and embrace this important vocation.”
Under the Young Farmer Success Act of 2015, a farmer would see the balance of his or her student loans forgiven after making 10 years of income-based student loan payments, freeing capital for farmers to acquire land and equipment.
The bill requires a qualified farm to earn a minimum of $35,000 in revenue for a farmer to be eligible for loan forgiveness to prevent the program from being used by hobby farmers or others who do not perform a public service.
Supporters of the Young Farmer Success Act of 2015 include the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC), an advocacy network of 60,000 farmers, ranchers, and consumers led by Lindsey Lusher Shute of Clermont, NY.
“Student loan debt is one of the most serious obstacles that new farmers face,” said Ms. Lusher Shute. “This legislation will make farm careers possible for thousands of young Americans. We are grateful that Congressman Gibson and Congressman Courtney are taking a stand for the future of agriculture.”
The NYFC conducted a survey of 700 young farmers and found that 53% of respondents are currently farming but have a hard time making student loan payments. Another 30% want to go into farming but haven’t pursued it as a career because they would be unable to make enough money to cover their student loan payments.
“The average age of the American farmer is 58,” said Congressman Gibson. “As the majority of farmers near retirement age, we need at least 100,000 new farmers to take their place. I deeply appreciate the guidance and advocacy of Lindsey and the National Young Farmers Coalition, and I look forward to continuing our partnership to bring more people into agriculture and protect a way of life that sustains our nation.”