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Senators Sponsor Bill Expanding Family Farm Protections
USAgNet - 03/28/2019

Struggling farm families who need to consider protection from the U.S. bankruptcy code may see a little relief under a proposal being considered by a bipartisan group of senators. On Wednesday, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Iowa's Chuck Grassley introduced the Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 to help family farms financially reorganize after falling on hard times.

"For a host of reasons, farm bankruptcies have increased. Current policies don't accurately reflect the increased cost of running a farm in today's day and age," Johnson said. "This legislation is designed to help keep more of Wisconsin's family farms operating by allowing them access to a streamlined path to reorganization to get through tough times."

Under current law, Chapter 12 bankruptcy removes certain costly reorganization requirements intended for large corporations. Johnson's measure raises the Chapter 12 operating debt cap to $10 million, allowing more family farmers to seek relief under the program.

Grassley says several years of low commodity prices, stringent farm lending regulations and market uncertainty 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," he said. "In some places in 2018, farm bankruptcies doubled from the previous year. Debts held by farmers are nearing historic levels set in the 1980s, further financially extending farm operations."

Other supporters of the bill include Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith of Minnesota, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Doug Jones of Alabama, and Joni Ernst of Iowa

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