Thanks to the hard work of the Land Stewardship Project’s members and supporters who have lobbied their legislators by phone and sent e-mails from across the state, the Minnesota Legislature has taken an important first step to protect small to medium-size farms. Farm foreclosures and mediation deadlines are on pause for 60 days. However, 60 days is not enough.
COVID-19 has added a gut punch to farm families already in economic crisis, pushing depressed market prices even lower. Farmer mediations with lenders have spiked to the highest level in decades. These mediations require in-person meetings to succeed, and are very difficult when Minnesotans are focused on keeping themselves and their neighbors healthy and safe.
Farmers in debt mediation need more time. We need to PAUSE farm foreclosures and extend mediation deadlines THROUGH fall harvest to give farm markets a chance to rebound, to allow mediation to succeed, and to keep Minnesota farm families in business.
Please take two minutes to send this message to your elected officials: We need a PAUSE on mediation through harvest!
Farm Crisis Legislation During COVID-19
The current global pandemic highlights the need for a local and diversified food supply chain. Yet small to medium-size farmers across the state are in crisis and need immediate relief. We cannot afford to lose any more farmers during a health crisis that is threatening our food security. The Legislature must act now.
Our collective action has pushed legislators to move on several key issues, but we can’t stop when we’re only halfway there. We need:
To extend the PAUSE on farm foreclosures by stretching mediation deadlines THROUGH HARVEST
– SF 45xx (introduced by Goggin/Miller) and HF 4599 (Lippert/Poppe)
– Current extension expires in May; farmers need an extension through harvest to December 1
Funding for Farm Advocates:
• SF 4177 (Dahms/Eken) and HF 4104 (Brand/Anderson) increase one-time funding for the Farm Advocates program by $300,000
– Senate Ag omnibus bill includes $100,000 (a positive step forward)
– House bill includes $25,000 (a start, but does NOT meet skyrocketing needs)
Grant Program for Loan Restructuring:
• SF 3580 (Goggin/Weber) and HF 3739 (Lippert/Hamilton) create an $880,000 grant program to cover origination fees of loan restructuring for farmers and lenders in mediation
– Senate Ag omnibus bill includes $250,000 (to initiate this new program)
– House omnibus bill does not YET include any funding for this program
Hearing from constituents matters. When we come together to make our voices heard, we can win important safeguards to keep our farmers farming and our rural communities intact.