A new bill has been introduced by Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) to help farmers in the local region that are struggling from the economic impacts of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, a bill was introduced that would provide debt forgiveness to small farmers. The bill is titled the Relief for America's Small Farmers Act. This will allow one-time debt forgiveness of up to $250,0000 for farmers who have existing loan obligations with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The goal is to help farms remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to support the food supply.

"Hudson Valley's farmers feed our communities and power our local economy. This global pandemic has dramatically disrupted their ability to sell, pushing many small farmers further into debt or forcing them to the brink of closure. This bill will bring relief to the farmers who need it most, keep our farms open during this crisis, and protect jobs here in the Hudson Valley." -Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney

This bill is designed specifically to help small farmers who are struggling. Farmers that have an average adjusted gross income of $300,000 or less over the past five years will be eligible for the debt relief under this bill. The bill will allow a one year window to apply for the relief. Farmers who benefit from the bill must engage in farming for at least two years after getting the forgiveness.

In New York State, there are over 33,000 farms that provide over 200,000 jobs, according to Rep. Maloney's website. 98% of New York farms are family-owned. The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Chellie Pingree (ME-1), Peter Welch (VT-at large), and Tom Malinowski (NJ-7). Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

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