ST. PAUL – Minnesota House Democrats on Wednesday unanimously voted against and blocked a House Republican proposal to allocate funds for a depleted loan program which aids farmers.
The Rural Finance Authority loan program runs out of funds on Friday, according the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. House Republicans attempted to replenish those funds to eliminate uncertainty for farmers and help them prepare for the upcoming growing season.
“We heard a lot of excuses on the House floor for not declaring urgency on this issue,” said Rep. Shane Mekeland, R-Clear Lake. “Those who blocked this proposal can say anything they want but, ultimately, they turned their backs our farmers who are counting on us to replenish the RFA funds. This needs to be addressed on their time, not the Legislature’s. Farmers already are facing extraordinary financial stresses and the House majority just blew an opportunity to help them today.”
Mekeland said the RFA partners with agricultural lenders to provide low-cost financing to farmers on terms and conditions not otherwise available from other credit sources. The RFA portion of the loan is carried at a reduced interest rate to improve the cash flow of eligible farmers. RFA offer loans within the beginning farmer loan and seller assisted program, agricultural improvement program, debt restructuring program, and livestock expansion programs.
House Republicans attempted to allocate $50 million to the RFA on Wednesday.