Young people shouldn’t have to choose between a career in farming and paying off their student loan debt. But we’ve heard it again and again—student loan debt is keeping young people from succeeding in agriculture. Now NYFC is taking this challenge head on. Last week, we launched a new campaign to tackle the student loan barrier for committed, career farmers: #FarmingIsPublicService
NYFC is calling for the addition of farmers to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which currently provides debt relief to doctors, teachers, government employees and nonprofit workers. For enrollees who make 10 years of income-driven student loan payments, the balance of their federal loan debt will be forgiven. Not only will this help farmers get out from under debt that they are unable to repay, but it will provide an incentive for new farmers to enter careers in agriculture.
As we roll out the campaign, we will be telling the stories of young farmers struggling with their student loan debt. Art Talmadge of Cranberry Hill Farm in Ashford, CT is one such farmer. He studied agriculture at the University of Connecticut and currently farms vegetables and pastured chicken on 30 acres. “If my wife didn’t have a full-time off farm job we would have to sell… I currently owe more when I started my farm and that continues to rise due to the accrued interest. My student loan debt is crushing us.”
But to make this happen, we need you! As a first step, join the #FarmingIsPublicService campaign. There, you can learn more, sign up for campaign updates, take our survey and buy the campaign tee!
Winning student loan forgiveness for farmers isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to take all of us, working together, to get farmers the support they need.