To the Editor:
Illinois’ agricultural lending community commends Congressman U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, for introducing the Beginning Agriculturist Lifetime Employment, or BALE Act, earlier this year. Congressman Bost’s legislation will help both existing and new farmers by modernizing the US Department of Agriculture’s Direct and Guaranteed Loan Programs, offered through the Farm Service Agency. We strongly support his efforts to pass this important, bipartisan legislation through Congress.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency plays an important part in helping to finance farm startups or expansions through its Direct and Guaranteed Loan Programs. However, these programs have not kept pace with today’s costs of starting and expanding an agricultural business. Bost’s BALE Act will ensure that our state’s agricultural producers have adequate access to credit — which in turn will help boost rural economies throughout Illinois.
Among other changes, the BALE Act raises maximum loan amounts to reflect our current farm economy. It also helps socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers by raising the maximum guarantees on their loans. These improvements, along with the bill’s other modernization provisions, will greatly improve access to credit for Illinois’ farmers and agribusinesses.
We encourage Illinois residents — along with Congressman Bost’s colleagues in Congress — to support inclusion of the BALE Act in the next Farm Bill that Congress will soon be considering. The BALE Act’s reforms will ensure that USDA lending programs better reflect the current costs of owning, operating, expanding, or diversifying modern farm operations throughout Illinois. The Illinois agricultural lending community looks forward to working with Congressman Bost to support this important proposal.
Agricultural Advisory Committee
Illinois Bankers Association