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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

Eager but cash-strapped farmers seek Farm Bill solutions

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Monday, December 11, 2023   

This story has been updated to include the correct name of the bill. An earlier version inadvertently mis-identified the legislation.


Advocates for America's small farmers say younger folks express a growing interest in agriculture, but
without necessary capital, they can't get a foothold.

More than 90 rural organizations are urging members of Congress to support the Fair Credit for Farmers Act. A new Farm Bill has been delayed, but supporters say the Act would help young and disenfranchised farmers access federal credit to run their farms.

Judith McGreary, executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance in Cameron, says the regulatory system is not designed for small farms, which face huge uphill battles economically because farm land and equipment is so expensive.
Instead, she says the framework favors large-scale corporate operations.

"Unless you are either inheriting a lot from the farm, or a big corporate operation that's got backing from a company, it can be very hard to get started and really run it for the first several years," McGeary observed.

According to the National Family Farm Coalition, U.S. farm debt is at historic highs - currently
exceeding 500-billion dollars. Congress temporarily extended the current Farm Bill until September 2024.

McGreary pointed out that more support also is needed for USDA Farm Service Agencies - considered a "lender of last resort" - because they make ownership loans to family-sized farms that are unable to obtain credit elsewhere. She believes it's in the public interest to support small farms.

"Not only because they provide food for all of us, but because having small farmers holding the land and running economically viable businesses helps the entire rural community," McGeary emphasized.

A 2022 survey found 40% of U.S. farmland is expected to change ownership over the next two decades. Advocates for small farms worry without protections such as those in the Fair Credit for Farmers Act, corporate consolidation could accelerate and lead to the further decline of once vibrant rural communities.




CORRECTION: This story has been updated to include the correct name of the bill. An earlier version inadvertently mis-identified the legislation. (2:11 p.m. MST., Dec. 22, 2023.)


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