ST. PAUL – The Minnesota House on Thursday provided broad, bipartisan approval of a bill to replenish funds for the state’s depleted Rural Finance Authority loan program for farmers.
Upon enactment, the bill would provide $50 million to the RFA after the program ran dry Feb. 21. State Rep. Shane Mekeland, R-Clear Lake, said the RFA’s programs are popular among farmers and passage of the bill now will help to ensure a smoother crop season.
“Many farmers count on RFA programs to run their business so, with the new planting season approaching, it was important to get this bill through now instead of waiting until the end of session,” Mekeland said. “Agriculture is a huge deal in our state, so it was good we supported our farmers by passing this bill now and providing them with some certainty heading into the spring. Because these funds are paid back by farmers, this program does not come at a cost to taxpayers, making it even easier to support.”
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.
The bill, which passed the House 127-2, now awaits action in the Minnesota Senate.