A priority for both sides at the Minnesota Capitol was finalized on Tuesday, March 17, as Gov. Tim Walz signed the Rural Finance Authority bill (Ch. 67 H.F. 2959), which includes $50 million in low interest loans for Minnesota farmers.
The bill allocates $50 million to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Rural Finance Authority, allowing the RFA to continue to offer Minnesota farmers affordable financing not offered by traditional lenders.
Days before the Minnesota State Legislature reconvened on Feb. 11, Minnesota Ag Commissioner Thom Petersen said that passing the bonding proposal to keep distributing a suite of loans to Minnesota farmers was the top priority of the department.
At that time, Petersen said the Ag Department was "running precariously low on funds" for the Rural Finance Authority, and the $50 million requested would cover about two years of loans.
“We’re so pleased that the Legislature understood the urgent need to replenish these funds so we can continue to help beginning farmers and those who want to expand or restructure,” said Petersen after the bill was signed. “This is money that will come back to help Minnesota farmers again and again in the years to come.”
Walz signed the RFA bill along with a bill to replenish the state’s Disaster Assistance Contingency Account (Ch. 68 H.F. 3633), and a bill to allow the Minnesota Department of Transportation to apply for a federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan for Highway 14 expansion (Ch. 69 H.F. 3977) completing a continuous four-lane highway between Mankato and Rochester..
“While our state and nation’s attention has turned to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still fighting for other critical needs across the state,” said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. “These laws will support farmers, increase safety on Highway 14, and prepare our state to respond to natural disasters.”
According to a press release from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, RFA loans are particularly important early in the year when farmers are reviewing finances and looking to restructure debt before the growing season.
The Rural Finance Authority includes user finance loans, beginning farmer loans, restructure loans and livestock loans — all of which are designed to help Minnesota farmers purchase land, restructure debt and invest in their farms.
Farmers in Minnesota interested in learning more about the loans should visit the state Ag Department's website or contact 651-201-6004.