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Dayton Urges Funding for Minnesota Rural Finance Authority
Minnesota Ag Connection - 04/13/2018

Governor Mark Dayton Thursday urged the Minnesota Legislature to take immediate action to provide at least $35 million in additional funding for the Minnesota Rural Finance Authority (RFA). The new funding would allow the Authority to continue offering eligible Minnesota farmers affordable financing and terms and conditions not offered by other traditional lenders. Without this urgently-needed investment, the RFA is expected to exhaust its available capital for loans to Minnesota farmers before the 2018 Legislative Session concludes in May.

"We cannot let funding for the Minnesota Rural Finance Authority run out," said Dayton. "This program is a lifeline for many Minnesota farmers who are facing low crop prices and declining incomes right now. I urge the Minnesota Legislature to pass this legislation quickly. Doing so will help Minnesota farm families get the financial assistance they need during these challenging times."

The Minnesota Rural Finance Authority is currently experiencing more demand from Minnesota farmers than in past years. In fact, RFA assistance to Minnesota farmers has increased 93 percent over last year. The State also expects to see more demand for the program in the coming weeks, as producers finalize their financial plans before planting and barn construction begins later in the year.

"At a time when the farm economy is struggling, the low-interest RFA loans can provide critical aid for farmers needing to restructure their debt," said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. "The fact that the program funding is running out speaks volumes about the farmers who need these resources to stay solvent."

Reiterating the Administration's commitment to providing Minnesota farmers this needed assistance, Commissioner Frederickson sent a letter to the Senate and House Capital Investment Committee chairs.

Last session, the Minnesota Legislature acted quickly to pass an authorization of $35 million for RFA loan programs. As of March 29, there is $6.3 million remaining of that $35 million. At the current rate of utilization, the Department of Agriculture anticipates that funding will be exhausted before the end of the 2018 Legislative Session.

In addition to helping farmers secure financing for their farm operations, the RFA offers a variety of other programs that help strengthen Minnesota farm families and communities. These programs are designed to help farmers purchase land, restructure debt, invest in farm improvements, and finance livestock production facilities. Overall, more than $249 million of RFA funding has been invested in Minnesota farm operations since 1986. This has leveraged over $750 million in financing for rural Minnesota.

Minnesota farmers who are interested in learning more about the assistance offered by the Rural Finance Authority should visit the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's website or call 651-201-6004.

On Jan. 16, Dayton proposed additional funding for the Minnesota Rural Finance Authority as part of his 2018 Public Works Bill. The Governor's Public Works proposal would also make urgently-needed investments to build world--class colleges and universities for Minnesotans, and improve and repair state buildings and other critical infrastructure across the state.

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