Senators Reintroduce Bills to Expand Farmers' Access to Precision Ag Equipment
The Precision Agriculture Loan (PAL) Act would create a program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide loan financing to farmers and ranchers interested in purchasing precision agriculture equipment. The Producing Responsible Energy and Conservation Incentives and Solutions for the Environment (PRECISE) Act would provide a suite of financial tools to help farmers and ranchers of all sizes increase their adoption of precision ag technologies through existing USDA conservation programs. "Precision agriculture equipment can help farmers and ranchers expand on the work they already do as good stewards of our land. High upfront costs, however, often limit producers' ability to use these cutting-edge technologies. These two bipartisan bills would improve producers' access to exciting, innovative tools that can make operations more productive, efficient, and less resource-intensive," said Fischer. "Precision agriculture tools like soil mapping and aerial imagery technologies help lower costs for farmers, improve productivity, and benefit the environment. That's why it's critical that more farmers can access and benefit from precision ag technologies. Our bipartisan bills will give farmers and ranchers the resources they need to invest in precision ag tools," said Klobuchar.
"ASA heartily thanks Senators Fischer and Klobuchar for leading the Senate on an important issue for soybean farmers: helping to get precision ag technology into the hands of the farmers who wish to use it. The voluntary, incentive-based approach they champion in the PAL and PRECISE acts will help farms of all sizes be more productive, efficient, and sustainable at a time when farmers are facing pressure to be all three. We look forward to working with the bipartisan, bicameral cosponsors to get these bills across the finish line," said Daryl Cates, president of the American Soybean Association and an Illinois soybean farmer. "America's farmers and ranchers must have access to cutting-edge technology and equipment to remain competitive in global markets. The PAL Program Act and the PRECISE Act offer a comprehensive solution that will ensure that the proper tools and equipment are available to producers so they have access to climate-smart agricultural practices. We appreciate Senators Deb Fischer and Amy Klobuchar for their leadership and commitment to America's farmers, ranchers, and foresters," said Kip Eideberg, Association of Equipment Manufacturers senior vice president, Government and Industry Relations. "Precision ag technologies are critical tools that help America's farmers and ranchers maximize their yields and reduce their environmental footprint. However, the upfront costs to purchase new, cutting-edge equipment is often prohibitively expensive. We applaud Senators Fischer and Klobuchar for their bipartisan leadership on the Precision Agriculture Loan Act, which will facilitate the adoption of innovative, climate-smart technologies," said the Food and Ag Climate Alliance. "The Nature Conservancy applauds Senators Fischer and Klobuchar for their bipartisan leadership on the Precision Agriculture Loan Act. Because it can be challenging for farmers to incorporate conservation practices into their operations, we support efforts to remove barriers to adoption and improve access to tools that facilitate the adoption of regenerative conservation practices," said Jenny Conner Nelms, The Nature Conservancy, associate director, Legislative Affairs. "The adoption of precision technologies by farmers and ranchers will lead to a more sustainable future for our nation's food producers both environmentally and economically. At the same time, the cost of adopting these technologies can be considerably prohibitive. Nebraska Farm Bureau truly appreciates Sen. Fischer introducing the Precision Agriculture Loan Program Act, which will provide needed assistance to help farm and ranch families purchase this vital equipment," said Mark McHargue, president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation.
"Advancing climate-smart agriculture for farms of all sizes and geographies will require transformative financial investments. By unlocking new financing for precision agriculture technology, this bill will allow more farmers to use innovative technology in the pursuit of a strong agricultural economy and even greater climate ambitions," said Elizabeth Gore, senior vice president for political affairs at Environmental Defense Fund. The following groups have endorsed both bills: American Farm Bureau Federation, American Seed Trade Association, American Sugarbeet Growers Association, American Soybean Association, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, AMVAC, California Specialty Crops Council, Council of Producers and Distributor of Agrotechnology, CropLife America, Ducks Unlimited, Environmental Defense Fund, FMC, Food and Ag Climate Alliance, Hop Growers of America, ISK Biosciences, Lindsay Corporation, National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants, National Cotton Council, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Milk Producers Federation, National Onion Association, National Potato Council, Regrow, The Nature Conservancy, and USA Rice. Background on the PAL ACT: The PAL Act would establish the Precision Agriculture Loan program within USDA's Farm Service Agency. The program would offer low-cost and long-term loans to agriculture producers who want to adopt precision agriculture technologies but can't afford to through traditional financing. It would be the first federal loan program dedicated entirely to precision agriculture. Instead of paying upwards of 5 percent in interest, producers would be eligible for interest rates lower than 2 percent through the new program with loan terms from 3 to 12 years in length. These loans would cover any precision agriculture technology that improves efficiency or reduces inputs. U.S. Representatives Randy Feenstra (R-Iowa) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) introduced companion legislation in the House. Background on the PRECISE Act: The PRECISE Act will provide funding through existing USDA loan programs to help producers purchase precision agriculture equipment. The bill: Includes precision agriculture technologies within USDA's existing Conservation Loan and Guaranteed Loan program, with up to a 90% guarantee to incentivize the private sector. Increases cost share and practice payments for precision agriculture technologies under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) Funds 100% of precision agriculture projects through joint participation of conservation cost share programs and the Conservation Loan Program Requires the Secretary of Agriculture to emphasize the use of third-party providers for technical assistance for soil health planning U.S. Representatives Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calf.), Brad Finstad (R-Minn.), and Angie Craig (D-Minn.) introduced companion legislation in the House.