Focus federal loans to small farmers

To the editor:

My name is MaDonna Sellner and I help out on Autumn Breeze Dairy which is in partnership between my husband David and son Christopher. In this time of low prices, it is not an easy time for family Dairies like ours. I know other small to mid-sized livestock producers raising hogs or cattle are also feeling the pinch. The last thing we need in times like this is more mega-dairies or huge corporate feedlots being built to flood the marketplace.

It makes me angry to know that the federal government is helping these corporate farms build or expand by giving them federal guaranteed farm loans. Even worse, Senator Amy Klobauchar wants to almost double the limit for these loans so banks can lend millions of dollars while putting us taxpayers on the hook for all the risk.

Last year, Sen. Klobuchar, cosponsored a bill (5.3229) that would have raised the limit of federally guaranteed farm loans from $1.39 million to $2.5 million for both ownership and operating loans. the average federal guaranteed farm loan size in Minnesota during 2016 was only $282,447 for operating loans and $434,336 for ownership loans, nowhere close to the current limit of $1.39 million.

Who needs a loan over $1.39 million? Only the mega-dairies and huge corporate farms are asking for this amount of money. this program was created to help beginning farmers or small operators to get loans, not to remove the risk for wealthy bankers to bet on corporate ventures. Small and mid-sized family farms need this money and increasing the limit only allows banks to direct the set pool of money towards these larger loans.

Small to mid-sized farms are a vital part of thriving rural communities/ More farmers means more people on the land, fuller churches, more kids in schools, and a healthier local community. We need more new and beginning farmers from every background, and we need to give them resources and opportunities to thrive. Our family farm has been in the family for over 100 years and our son would like to continue farming it, but we will not survive if the government is giving hand-outs to corporate Ag. Senator Klobuchar should stand with family farmers and work so that dairies and feedlots over 1,000 animal units can’t even apply for federally guaranteed loans.

It small and mid-sized farms cease to exist and all we have is large corporations do you think they will care about quality, or the price you will pay for their products?

Madonna Sellner

Sleepy Eye

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