FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: https://www.youngfarmers.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Screen-Shot-2021-08-17-at-2.19.49-PM-2-1.png, Communications Director
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 16, 2019) Yesterday, the House Education and Labor Committee Chairman, Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), introduced a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), The College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674), that includes language to add farmers and ranchers to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
The addition of farmers and ranchers to the PSLF program was introduced in the Young Farmer Success Act (H.R. 3232), by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA), Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY), Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA), and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) on June 12, 2019. The Young Farmer Success Act is a bipartisan effort to bolster the nation’s agricultural economy and provide security to its food supply by extending the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program—currently offered to teachers, nurses, and other public servants—to farmers and ranchers.
“The House’s College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674) shows a critical commitment to our nation’s young farmers and ranchers who are taking on the important task of growing food for our country,” said Co-Executive Director of the National Young Farmers Coalition, Sophie Ackoff. “Student loan debt is preventing the next generation from succeeding in agriculture. Adding farmers and ranchers to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program creates a pathway out of debt for these young people, allowing them to build more successful businesses and a brighter future for the U.S. agriculture industry.”
This win for young farmers and ranchers stands in contrast to the bill introduced by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the Student Aid Improvement Act of 2019 (S. 2557). Unfortunately, language from the Student Loan Forgiveness for Farmers and Ranchers Act (S. 2168) introduced on July 18, 2019 by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) to create the Agricultural Student Loan Forgiveness Program, was not included in the Senate legislation. This program would have been the first and largest effort to date to recognize farmers and ranchers as public servants and address the student loan debt barrier.
While it is admirable that the Senate package includes some provisions to support underserved groups including minority-serving institutions, first-generation college students and students currently incarcerated, it is unfortunate that it does not take a more comprehensive approach to including all underserved groups, including farmers and ranchers that comprise the next generation of agriculture.
The National Young Farmers Coalition (Young Farmers) is a national advocacy network of young farmers fighting for a brighter future for agriculture.
Visit us on the web at youngfarmers.org, and on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.