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Kansas, Maine Senators file bill to improve family farmers’ access to credit

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(The Center Square) – U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, teamed up with Angus King, I-Maine, to introduce a bill to improve farmers’ access to credit.

The two introduced the Access to Credit for our Rural Economy (ACRE) Act of 2023.

It would give “greater flexibility to more financial institutions to offer affordable lines of credit to rural and agricultural borrowers,” according to a press release from Moran’s office.

“High inflation and rising interest rates are putting a strain on farmers and rural homeowners in Kansas and across the country,” Moran said in the release. “Main street lenders must have the flexibility required to provide rural Americans with access to the capital needed to achieve homeownership and continue operating family farms. This legislation will help to boost rural housing and support the agricultural economy that plays a vital role in small towns across America.”

King said the bill would make farm ownership a reality for more Americans.

“Rural communities across America are facing a serious affordable housing crisis,” King said in the release. “It has simply gotten way too hard to find reasonably priced homes in our small towns. The ACRE Act is a commonsense way to make home and farm ownership possible for more families by providing better access to low-interest loans. There’s no one easy solution to our housing affordability problems, but this bipartisan effort would be an important step forward. I appreciate Senator Moran’s partnership and hope we can get this bill passed for rural communities like those in Maine and Kansas.”

The ACRE Act would give community banks tax-exempt status on some earned interest related to farm credit institutions. It would allow farm real estate borrowers and rural homeowners to access lower interest rates. The exemption would be for single-family home mortgage loans in rural municipalities with fewer than 2,500 residents. It would apply to mortgages less than $750,000.

If passed, the bill would save family farmers and producers more than $400 million per year in annual interest expenses, the release said.

“Rising interest rates and skyrocketing energy and crop input costs are squeezing profits for farmers and ranchers across America,” Doug Wareham, President and CEO of the Kansas Bankers Association, said in the release. “Small towns are also facing a housing shortage crisis that threatens the fabric and future of rural communities struggling to grow and prosper. We applaud U.S. Senators Jerry Moran and Angus King for introducing the ACRE Act, which will reduce the cost of borrowing for agricultural land and home purchases in rural communities across America.”

The bill can be read here.

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