August 29, 2019
Birmingham, Ala. – As bankruptcy rates among American farmers near record highs, Senator Doug Jones announced that bipartisan legislation he introduced with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to help family farms reorganize their debts has been signed into law by President Donald Trump.
Recognizing the unique challenges that family farmers and fishers face, Congress established Chapter 12 of the U.S. bankruptcy code, which removes certain costly reorganization requirements intended for large corporations. The Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 raises the Chapter 12 operating debt cap to $10 million, allowing more family farmers to seek relief under the program.
“Farming is a tough way to make a living even when everything goes right. Unfortunately, our farmers and fishers haven’t had a whole lot go right for them lately – from the ongoing trade war to natural disasters preventing harvesting and planting seasons. Fortunately, this new law will help family farms and fisheries across the country stay afloat and weather the toughest times,” said Senator Jones. “Our bipartisan legislation will relieve some of the financial pressure the American farm economy is facing today and help American farmers thrive.”
Several years of low commodity prices, stringent farm lending regulations and recent retaliatory tariffs have taken a toll on America’s agriculture producers. Farm bankruptcy rates in many farming regions across the country are at their highest point in a decade. In some places in 2018, farm bankruptcies doubled from previous years. Debts held by farmers are nearing historic levels set in the 1980s, further financially straining farm operations.
This is the latest in a series of actions that Senator Jones has taken to mitigate the damage to Alabama farmers as a result of the Trump administration’s trade wars, including introducing legislation to offer financial and technical support to help farmers and producers recover losses by offering Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) to those hurt by China’s retaliatory tariffs and partnering with Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) to urge the President to announce the second round of agricultural tariffs trade assistance.
The Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 was also co-sponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.)
The Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 is supported by the National Farm Bureau.
Text of the bill is available here.