A disaster was narrowly averted over the Farm Bill when Congress decided to extend the 2018 for another year. The biggest piece of agriculture and food security legislation is in desperate need of modernizing. Because of this, Congressional members started preparing for the negotiations over this bill two years ago; and they still couldn’t get it done. Several members of Congress are keeping their feet on the gas to not brush this off for a year. They want to keep the dialogue open and fresh.
Not only are ag state lawmakers and agriculture groups trying to keep the discussion going and momentum moving forward, but bankers are also stepping up for farmers. True, there are provisions in the Farm Bill that help the banks when dealing with Ag loans, but bankers also know that when farmers have stability, their operations have stability. If their operations have stability, then their finances are stable. If their finances are stable, the less risky operating loans are for banks to give.
Ed Elfmann is the Senior Vice President of Agricultural and Rural Banking Policy for the American Bankers Association. This organization represents 83% of the banks in the United States. Elfmann talks about the support they are providing both farmers and bankers as they are navigating on an old piece of legislation.
The lending policies that are shaped by the Farm Bill are based on outdated economic information. The prices of commodities are not what they were five years ago. That goes along with the fact that interest rates are not what they were, and input costs are not either. Having stability and new figures will help farmers and rural banks.
Elfmann reminds us of the fact that credit titles are dangerously outdated.
Elfmann says that they are also fighting for improvements in FSA loans and grants for beginning farmers. They realize the need for upgrading is dire.
Not only are farmers hanging in the balance of this outdated legislation, but people who are dealing with food insecurity are also going to need help in a changing economic situation.