HomeBudget & Tax NewsCongress Considering Student Loan Forgiveness for Young Farmers

Congress Considering Student Loan Forgiveness for Young Farmers

(The Center Square) – Illinois agriculture schools want more people to take advantage of cutting-edge education programs, but fear of student debt may be keeping young farmers from harvesting a career in agriculture.

A proposed loan forgiveness program may offer students a path to an ag career.

Illinois U.S. Rep. Nikki Budzinski, D-Springfield, is one of four sponsors of the bipartisan Young Farmers Success Act, recently introduced in the House by Rep. G.T. Thompson, R-Penn.

“I was honored to be asked by the chairman to help sponsor this bipartisan effort,” Budzinski told The Center Square.

The proposal would make farm and ranch workers eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), which gives nurses, teachers, firefighters and others loan forgiveness incentives for public service work.

Members of Budzinski’s Agriculture Advisory Council – which is made up of family farmers, representatives from the Illinois Farm Bureau and representatives from community colleges and universities in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District – told her there is a need for more people to go into agricultural education. The future of Illinois’ rural communities depends on it, she said.

“We have a real issue in agriculture that the average age of a farmer is 57 years old,” Budzinski said. “Farmers who are over 65 outnumber farmers who are under 35 at a 6-1 ratio.”

The industry needs to be thinking ahead about the next generation of farmers, she said.

“Trying to prioritize younger farmers in our farm bill is something that I am looking to really lead on,” Budzinski said.

Farmers will have to work full-time for a qualified employer for 10 years to qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance of their loans.

“If a young farmer, after 10 years of making income-based payments, still has loans, we want to work to try to forgive that loan,” Budzinski said.

The agricultural economy is critical to the economic well-being of Illinois and the nation, Budzinski said. It is important for national security.

“Without farm and ranch workers, our country will lose the ability to provide safe and affordable food to our citizens and the world,” Budzinski said.

The Illinois Farm Bureau, the National Farmers Union and the National Corn Growers Association have expressed support for the bill.

Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission. 

For more from Budget & Tax News.

For more public policy from The Heartland Institute.

Zeta Cross
Zeta Cross
Zeta Cross is a Center Square contributor

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