State Senator wants more funding for new farmers

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Illinois State Senator Michael Frerichs wants more money available to new farmers.

As the Chair of Senate Agriculture Committee, he's sponsoring a new bill that would increase the lending limits for the beginning farmer bond.

The high cost of machinery and land can discourage younger generations from pursuing a life on the farm. Senator Michael Frerichs wants to increase the amount of money they can get from the Illinois Finance Authority.

"Currently the max loan is $250,000, we want to raise to $450,000," said Senator Frerichs. "Those numbers may sound very large but for people who work in agriculture and see the price of a combine like this that money goes very quickly."

Adam Watson is farmer in Villa Grove who returned to the family farm in 2002 after going to college. He says he's seeing a few more people his age in the area return to farming.

"We're constantly borrowing money," Watson said. "We live a life of debt. So, it is an exciting deal to be to add on an extension of that much more money to be able to borrow."

Senator Frerichs says the loan limits in Illinois haven't been raised since the 80's and it's time because he's worried increasing operating expenses fewer farmers being able to provide food for everyone else.

"I think we have a problem in this country with farmers retiring in the next decade or so," Senator Frerichs said. "We want to make sure we have people who are committed to producing food and fuel for our country into the future."

The loans come from the Illinois Finance Authority. Executive Director John Filan says that they're definitely supporting this bill because increasing the cap would allow them to help more farmers expand.

Senator Frerichs says raising the beginning farmer bond limit would not raise taxes because the Illinois Finance Authority doesn't rely on taxpayer dollars to fund loans.

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