VIA NFU Email on April 25, 2019 –
Last week, a bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives introduced the Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019
, which would expand family farmers’ access to relief under Chapter 12
farm bankruptcy rules. A companion bill was submitted in the Senate three weeks earlier.
Chapter 12, which was established during the 1980s farm crisis, “enables
financially distressed family farmers and fishermen to propose and carry out a plan to repay all or part of their debts.” It accommodates the financial realities of agricultural professions by reducing some of the cost and complication of other bankruptcy chapters. However, the current debt limit of roughly $4.2 million prevents many family farmers from accessing Chapter 12 protections.
In response to the significant economic difficulties many family farmers and ranchers are currently facing, the bill would increase the debt cap to $10 million. According to a press release
put out by Congressman Antonio Delgado’s office, one of the bill’s sponsors, “The changes reflect the increase in land values, as well as the growth over time in the average size of U.S. farming operations and are meant to provide farmers additional options to manage the downturn in the farm economy.” National Farmers Union (NFU), which supports increasing the liability limit under Chapter 12, endorsed the legislation as it would provide more options for farmers coping with depressed commodity prices, higher input costs, and trade volatility.