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House passes $35 million to fund RFA loan program

Money to fund a popular agricultural loan program now has a separate path to its intended recipients, after the House passed HF4425 Monday 122-3.

Sponsored by Rep. Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg), the bill would appropriate $35 million for Rural Finance Authority loans.

Established in 1986 in response to the farm crisis, the Rural Finance Authority works with local lenders to operate a number of loan programs that help beginning farmers get started in agriculture along with established farmers who want to make capital improvements, add costly equipment or need other assistance.

Miller also sponsored a 2017 law, which provided $35 million for RFA loans. But the Department of Agriculture, which administers the program, said during a hearing last month that sluggish commodity prices and rising interest rates have increased need for the loans, and that money is expected to run out this summer. 

The omnibus supplemental budget bill  – HF4099 SF3656* – also contains a provision appropriating $35 million for the loans, but should that bill fail or be vetoed, HF4425 would provide another option lawmakers can use to provide the funding.

“This is a good bill for farmers,” Miller said.

The bill now travels to the Senate where Sen. Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake) is the sponsor.

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