In February, we asked you to urge your representatives in Congress to include family farmers in federal economic recovery efforts. In March, Farm Aid joined forces with more than 50 other farm, rural and housing organizations, asking Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to ensure that banks accepting federal bailout funds be required to work with farmers to avoid unnecessary foreclosures. Now, we need you to follow-up on these efforts by contacting your Senator once again and urging them to support the Feingold-Gillibrand Amendment.
Today, the US Senate will resume their consideration of the Helping Families Save their Homes Act of 2009. The Act is intended to help struggling Americans restructure their home mortgages. Because family farmers are often required to place their home as security against their farm loan, many do not have home mortgages and will not be extended the same protection as other troubled homeowners under this Act.
The Feingold-Gillibrand Amendment requires banks receiving Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds to offer farm loan restructuring to farms facing foreclosure so long as the restructured loan would be worth as much or more than the bank would receive by following through with foreclosure. These are the same conditions afforded to family farmers with farm loans supported by the USDA Farm Service Agency; and, extending these protections to privately-held farm loans is a reasonable requirement of any bank receiving taxpayer money.
Such a measure will have a widespread impact on family farmers across the country without additional funds from the federal government or costing the banks another dime. According to Food and Water Watch, “the fifteen largest TARP recipients that each received more than $1 billion made more than 92,000 small farm loans in 2007 – amounting to more than 40 percent of the loans nationwide and about a third of the loan dollars.”
Forty percent of farm loans! That’s certainly no small chunk of change and represents the livelihoods of tens of thousands of family farmers. Please act today to protect family farmers from the loss of not only their land, but the very roofs above their heads.