Democrats add farm debt relief to climate finance as Senate passage looms | 2022-08-06

The revised climate finance package that Democrats are advancing in the Senate this weekend would eliminate a debt relief program for minority farmers that has been blocked by the courts and replace it with new programs designed for “troubled” USDA borrowers as well as farmers who the department discriminated against.

The new version of the bill, dubbed the “Inflation Reduction Act,” allocates $3.1 billion to help owners of distressed guaranteed and direct loans.

Another $2.2 billion will be made available for payments of up to $500,000 to each farmer who has been “discriminated against” by January 1, 2021 under USDA farm loan programs. Payments will be based on “consequences of discrimination”.

The original debt relief program that was part of it The American bailout plan was passed by the Democrats in Congress in 2021 offered payments of 120% of the loan balance of minority farmers. Several judges ruled that loan forgiveness based on farmer’s race was unconstitutional.

The USDA had until fiscal year 2031 to use the new funding.

The legislation cleared a key hurdle Saturday night when Vice President Kamala Harris broke a 50-50 tie to bring the revised text up for debate. A final vote was not expected until early Sunday after debate on a series of largely symbolic votes on the GOP amendments.

The legislation, a major victory for President Joe Biden’s goal to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions, includes more than $20 billion to expand adoption of climate-relevant agricultural practices, as well as another $20 billion for energy and forestry programs US Department of Agriculture.

The bill provides tax credits for clean energy, including a new clean fuel tax credit for low-carbon biofuels.

Democrats from western states have also rallied behind the revised bill $4 billion in funding for the Bureau of Reclamation to help water users cope with the effects of the drought.

The revised bill also replaces some other aid in the US bailout meant for underserved farmers.

The provisions provide $125 million for outreach, advocacy, financial training and other assistance on “issues related to nutrition, agriculture, farm credit, agricultural extension, rural development, or nutrition for farmers, ranchers, or forest owners, including veterans, with limited resources. producers, beginning farmers and ranchers, and farmers, ranchers, and forest owners living in high-poverty areas.”

The bill would provide another $250 million in grants and loans to organizations that help improve access to land for farmers, ranchers and forest owners. Democrats add farm debt relief to climate finance as Senate passage looms | 2022-08-06

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