In guidance released earlier this month on the Senate Committees’ framework for the upcoming budget resolution, debt relief is listed under the jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. As such, sources say that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) — a member of the Committee — is expected to use this instruction as a window to advance her small-farmer debt relief bill. The Relief for America's Small Farmers Act (S. 2023/HR. 3782) would “use income to define eligible recipients for cancellation of operating and farm ownership loans made directly by the Farm Service Agency and emergency loans made because of natural disasters or quarantines to control the spread of animal or plant disease.” Qualifying loans must have been made before March 19, 2020, and a farmer or rancher would have to have an average adjusted gross income of $300,000 or less for the five years before applying for debt relief.
The Senate bill differs from the House bill in specifically calling for $10 billion in emergency money to pay for the debt relief. Senator Gillibrand's eight co-sponsors include Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), and Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), whose committee will provide offsets and funding sources for the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. Senators Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia) — who have previously pushed for debt relief for black and minority farmers — are also cosponsors and like Senator Leahy are members of the Senate Agriculture Committee.