Farmers who want to participate in the state’s debt mediation program would have to meet a higher financial threshold to do so under a provision of an omnibus policy bill under consideration by the House Agriculture Policy Committee Thursday.
Sponsored by Rep. Paul Anderson (R-Starbuck), HF1717 would increase the debt limit threshold to participate in Farmer-Lender Mediation from $5,000 to $15,000. This program was enacted in 1986 as a process farmers could use to renegotiate or restructure their debts, and to allow a cooling-off period while solutions are explored.
The committee began consideration of the bill Tuesday, adopting a delete-all amendment. It approved the bill and moved it to the House Floor Thursday afternoon. The companion, SF1674, is sponsored by Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne) and awaits action by the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Policy Committee.
During his introductory remarks Tuesday, Anderson said raising the threshold was perhaps the most controversial aspect of the bill, but noted the $5,000 amount has been in place for 30 years.
“My intention is to bring it up to the 21st Century in terms of some of the numbers,” Anderson said.
A task force established during the 2016 legislative session to study farmer-lender mediation issued a report several weeks ago recommending the debt limit be raised to $13,800, based on increases in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Index of the Cost of Production over the last 30 years.
But Anderson said changing the limit each year to reflect changes in that index would be “cumbersome” and recommended the increase to $15,000, which would stay in place for five years before another change was considered.
HF1717, as amended, also includes measures that would:
What’s in the bill?
The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part, or in whole, into the omnibus agriculture policy bill:
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