Hailing it as both vital for helping family farms keep going and as an example of how laws can actually be made in our era of hyper-partisan politics, U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado announced this week the signing by President Trump of the Family Farmer Relief Act.
The legislation, introduced this spring by Delgado (D-Rhinebeck) with the support of both Democrats and Republicans in the House, was approved by the Senate in July and signed by Trump last Friday. It expands the debt that can be covered for farmers under Chapter 12 bankruptcy law from $3.237 million to $10 million. “The changes reflect the increase in land values, as well as the growth over time in the average size of U.S. farming operations and are meant to provide farmers additional options to keep their doors open during downturns in the farm economy,” Delgado’s press release stated.
“It’s a big deal in helping small family farms across upstate New York,” Delgado said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, noting that the president’s tariffs and resultant “trade war” has, he said, “exacerbated the situation for our farmers.”
“This law relieves some of the uncertainty farmers are facing due to export market disruptions, weather events and declining farm income,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall in a statement. “It will help family farmers reorganize after falling on hard times by increasing the debt limit for relief eligibility under the Chapter 12 bankruptcy code.”
According to Delgado, the bill had the support of the American Farm Bureau, National Farmers Union, National Corn Growers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, the National Pork Producers Council and the American Bankruptcy Institute.
Delgado said the urgency of this kind of relief had been made clear to him in his almost two dozen visits to farms since he took office in January. “It became readily apparent to me that they’re hurting.”
Delgado added that it took “at least three to four months of constant behind-the-scenes work” to get the legislation passed. “It shows we can make law in a highly partisan and political environment,” he said.