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House gives farmers, lenders more time to prevent foreclosures, repos

Farmers and lenders may receive more time to prevent foreclosures and repossessions of agriculture property as the coronavirus pandemic hammers the already-distressed industry.

A modification to a temporary provision to the Farmer-Lender Mediation Act enacted last month to delay enforcement of debts secured by agricultural property by extending the mediation period between the farmer and lender from 90 to 150 days was passed unanimously by the House Wednesday.

HF4599, sponsored by Rep. Todd Lippert (DFL-Northfield), now travels to the Senate, where Sen. Michael Goggin (R-Red Wing) is the sponsor.

The bill would allow the mediation period to be extended up to 150 days or until Dec. 1, 2020, whichever is later. It would apply to farmers now in mediation and those who initiate mediation under the Farmer-Lender Mediation Act before Aug. 31, 2020.

“Everything in agriculture has been thrown up in the air and nothing has landed yet,” Lippert said. “We want to provide time for farmers to plant and harvest, time for livestock markets to stabilize, for milk prices to stabilize and for federal support for farmers to become clearer. We don’t want farmers and lenders to be rushed into farm-ending decisions in such a volatile ag marketplace.”

The Farmer-Lender Mediation Act was first enacted in 1986 in response to the farm credit crisis, by requiring banks and other creditors to offer a 90-day mediation period to farmers before enforcing debts against land, livestock or crops.

Rep. Nathan Nelson (R-Hinckley) said conditions are similar to the ‘80s farm crisis. He asked lawmakers to say a prayer for farmers. “They’re probably hurting more than you know.”


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