FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jessica Manly, National Young Farmers Coalition
firstname.lastname@example.org , 518-643-3564 ext. 722
Washington, D.C. (April 25, 2023) The National Young Farmers Coalition (Young Farmers) applauds Representatives Joe Courtney (CT-02), Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15), Monica De La Cruz (TX-15), and Nikki Budzinski (IL-13) for coming together to introduce the Young Farmer Success Act, an important bill that could incentivize young people to enter agricultural professions by making them eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
“The National Young Farmers Coalition supports this bipartisan effort to secure a long overdue update to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that would extend the program’s benefits to the next generation of farmers,” said David Howard, Young Farmers Policy Campaigns Co-Director.
If enacted, the Young Farmer Success Act would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to include full-time employees or managers of qualified farms or ranches to be eligible for student loan forgiveness. To be eligible, the farm or ranch would need to earn gross revenue during the year from the sale of agricultural products equal to or greater than $35,000. The bill aims to support young farmers and ranchers by making it easier for them to pursue higher education without the burden of student loan debt.
The National Young Farmers Coalition works to shift power and change policy to equitably resource our new generation of working farmers. That means not only ensuring that production, conservation, and marketing programs are accessible and accountable to this generation, but also breaking down all barriers to their success.
Young farmers across the country are passionate about growing food for their communities and stewarding natural resources. At the same time, they are struggling to find secure access to land, persisting through increasingly severe climate change impacts, and balancing rising farm input costs, household expenses, and student loan debt.
According to the 2022 National Young Farmer Survey, 78.5% of young farmers hold an associate degree or higher, and 38% carry some student loan debt that inhibits them from building their farm businesses or accessing additional capital. And this challenge is even greater for BIPOC farmers; 45% of young Black farmers say that student loan debt presents a significant challenge to their farm businesses, compared to 24.6% of White young farmers. According to the Survey, 20% of young farmers did not take out additional loans to support or grow their farm businesses because of existing student loan debt.
We believe that farming is an act of public service, and we believe that farmers, ranchers, and land stewards can and do contribute to the transformation of society. Unfortunately, for many, the burden of student loan debt is preventing them from pursuing a career in farming. This is a problem with many solutions that are overdue to be implemented, including the Young Farmer Success Act.
To read a fact sheet on the bill, click here.
The National Young Farmers Coalition (Young Farmers) is a grassroots network changing policy and shifting power to equitably resource the next generation of working farmers.