Dayton signs $35 million rural finance bill

ST. PAUL – Delivering needed assistance to Minnesota’s 74,000 farmers, Governor Mark Dayton today signed the bipartisan $35 million Rural Finance Authority legislation (H.F. 14) into law. The new funding will allow the Authority to continue offering eligible Minnesota farmers affordable financing and terms and conditions not offered by other traditional lenders. Without the investment, many Minnesota farmers would face a credit crunch caused by several years of low commodity prices and rising expenses. Rural Finance Authority loans are particularly important early in the year when Minnesota farmers review their finances and restructure debt ahead of the growing season.
“This investment will provide important assistance to Minnesota farmers struggling with low commodity prices and rising expenses,” said Governor Dayton. “I thank the Legislature for moving quickly to pass this bipartisan legislation. I look forward to working with Legislators on additional help for our farm families throughout the Session.”
“Minnesota’s farm families are the backbone of Minnesota’s economy and support hundreds of thousands of good jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “The Rural Finance Authority is important because it helps farmers facing the perfect storm of low commodity prices and high costs. I thank the many legislators who worked together across party lines to get this done.”
In addition to helping farmers secure financing, the Rural Finance Authority also offers a variety other programs to strengthen Minnesota farm families and communities. These programs are designed to help new farmers purchase land, restructure debt, invest in farm improvements, and finance livestock production facilities. Overall, more than $270 million has been invested in Minnesota farm operations since 1986.
“The Rural Finance Authority has delivered affordable, low interest loans to thousands of Minnesota farmers to finance expansions and land purchases, and to restructure their debt,” said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “Keeping family farmers in business is important not only to our rural communities, but to the entire state.”
The Rural Finance Authority has lacked funding since December 31, 2016, because the Minnesota Legislature failed to pass a bonding bill last session. Since exhausting the funding, the Authority has been working with local banks to take loan applications, but has been unable to authorize new financing for Minnesota farmers.
“The agriculture industry is the second largest employer in our state and the cornerstone of Minnesota’s economy, but the average farmer is 57 years old,” said Senator Andrew Lang (R-Olivia). “These low interest loans will continue our tradition of supporting family farms, and help young beginning farmers start their own farms or take over their family farms. I want to thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for working so well together, and I am glad to have the support of Governor Dayton on such an important program.”
“I am honored to have been a part of passing this legislation that will provide famers critical access to low interest loans,” said Senator Kent Eken (DFL-Twin Valley). “Programs like the Rural Finance Authority allow our agricultural producers and family farms to remain competitive, especially given the current downturn in the agriculture economy, and in turn has a direct impact on the success of rural communities throughout the state.”
“Providing funds for the continuation of the Rural Finance Authority’s agricultural loan program is an urgent issue I am pleased we were able to resolve swiftly,” said Representative Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin). “These loan opportunities benefit both our hardworking farmers and the local lenders who participate.”
Minnesota farmers interested in learning more about the assistance offered by the Rural Finance Authority should visit the Minnesota Department of Agriculture website or contact: 651-201-6004.