Ag Policy Blog
Correcting Some Reporting on Farmer Debt Relief in Inflation Reduction Act
Sometimes I have to jump into this space to point out my own mistakes.
Today, I'm clarifying a mistake in my reporting on the Inflation Reduction Act when it comes to debt relief for certain farmers.
My reporting on the bill was mainly focusing on the climate-smart spending for conservation programs and renewable energy. It was pointed out to me on Twitter that there also was a new provision paying off loan debt for farmers who had faced discrimination.
So I went to Congress.gov and pulled up the bill text as posted on Aug. 3. I found and cited the provisions in the bill language section to replace the farm-loan assistance from the American Rescue Plan. I cited that language essentially verbatim in my article on the bill passing the Senate on Sunday.
Obviously unknown to me, I was not looking at the most current version of the bill. I learned that early Tuesday that the provision I cited was wrong and out of date.
The latest version of the bill, as passed by the Senate, had an entirely different language to it than what I initially cited.
It is hard to pull back a mistake once an article hits the internet. Even as we are able to change the article on our website, the incorrect information can remain floating out there. I received emails from people today asking about my incorrect information.
I have to apologize for any confusion I caused because I reported information from an outdated version of the legislation.
A new provision will provide USDA with $3.1 billion in funding for USDA to provide relief for at-risk agricultural operations. All distressed borrowers of direct or guaranteed loans administered by USDA are potentially eligible for assistance under this provision which is designed to keep these farmers in production.
Through this section USDA can provide loan modifications and payments to distressed borrowers with the goal of keeping farmers farming.
The bill also amends Section 1006 of the American Rescue Plan to provide $2.2 billion for a program to provide financial assistance to farmers, ranchers or forest landowners who have experienced discrimination in USDA lending programs. Under the new language, financial assistance would go to farmers, ranchers or forest landowners who are "determined to have experienced discrimination prior to Jan. 1, 2021," in USDA farm lending programs. The financial assistance may not be more than $500,000 "as determined to be appropriate based on any consequences experienced from the discrimination." The provision also indicated the program "shall be administered through one or more qualified nongovernmental entities selected by the Secretary, subject to standards set and enforced by the Secretary."
The bill also includes $250 million that would toward research, education and extension, as well as scholarships for 1890 Institutions -- land-grant, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Another $250 million in the bill would go to help underserved producers through loans and grants such as those who farm on heirs' property.
To see the full details of the bill language on these provisions, see Section 22006 and Section 22007 page 554 of the bill. The full bill text for "Senate amendment to H.R. 5376 can be found at https://rules.house.gov/…
Interestingly enough, the one-page explanation of "Agriculture Committee Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act" does not mention anything about these provisions.
The House Rules Committee is set to meet at 1 p.m. Central on Wednesday to debate the rules on which the House will vote on the Inflation Reduction Act. The House majority leader has now posted on his website that Aug. 12 is now an "added voting day," for the House to take up the bill.
I'll try to do better moving forward when reporting on the details of legislation.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN
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