WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Mike Bost (R-IL) and Robin Kelly (D-IL) today introduced the Beginning Agriculturist Lifetime Employment (BALE) Act. This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that agricultural producers – especially those just getting started – have access to credit to expand or diversify their operations. It builds on a provision sponsored by Bost in the 2018 Farm Bill to increase caps on conservation, ownership, and operator loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Guaranteed and Direct Loan Programs.

“Our Southern Illinois farmers and producers help feed the nation,” said Bost. “But time and again they’ve told me about the challenges they face building their business when their costs are increasing. This is especially true for those just starting out. Modernizing the Guaranteed and Direct Loan Programs will help farmers and producers access the financing they need to grow their businesses.”

“Building a successful farm or food production operation today requires a lot of financial resources,”
said Congresswoman Kelly. “Access to that capital can be prohibitive for folks either just starting their business or looking to grow their operation. We all rely on our nation’s farmers to grow and produce the food we put on our tables, and if we want to support successful farming, we need to act now. The bipartisan BALE Act will help ensure that farmers and growers can overcome some of these financial barriers to build a profitable business and continue supplying food to people across the country.”

“In any economic environment, young and beginning farmers face significant financial hurdles to get their farms up and running and to establish and build necessary lines of credit,”
said Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert, Jr., an Ellis Grove grain producer. “That’s why Farm Bureau supports the BALE Act’s provisions to raise lending caps and reduce young farmers’ costs of borrowing from USDA’s Guaranteed and Direct Programs. Once again, Farm Bureau appreciates Reps. Bost and Kelly for their leadership and strongly endorses this effort.”

"Farm Credit Council strongly supports the legislation proposed by Reps. Bost and Kelly to raise FSA guaranteed loan limits,”
said Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose. “The capital investment required to start an agricultural operation is significant, regardless of the pandemic, trade and other challenges our farmers and ranchers face. As we look to support the next generation of diverse producers, it's time to modernize the amount FSA can loan through the guaranteed loan program."

“CBAI thanks Congressman Bost for introducing the bipartisan Beginning Agriculturalist Lifetime Employment (BALE) Act of 2021, and appreciates Congresswoman Robin Kelly co-leading this important legislation to increase access to financing for beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers,”
said Community Bankers Association of Illinois Senior Vice President David Schroeder. “Agriculture, like other industries, needs new aspirants to remain vibrant and to offset consolidation and those leaving the industry. CBAI appreciates that this bill increases the maximum loan guarantee limits on USDA loans. The legislation clearly addresses the greater funding needs of beginning and disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and will help ensure their long and successful careers.”

“ABA thanks Reps. Bost and Kelly for their reintroduction of the BALE Act,”
said American Bankers Association Senior Vice President Edwin Elfmann. “FSA Guaranteed Lending is a vital tool in an agricultural banker’s toolbox. We support their efforts to make FSA Guaranteed Loans a great option for farmers and ranchers, especially beginning farmers and ranchers.”

The BALE Act will:

  • Increase lending caps on conservation, ownership and operator loans from $1.75 million (as authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill) to $3 million.
  • Qualified beginning farmer and ranchers will see a 95% loan guarantee.
  • All other guaranteed loans will have a 90% guarantee.
  • Factors the guarantee down 1% per $100,000 over $3 million.
  • Sets the maximum loan at $4 million with an 85% guarantee for qualified beginning farmers and ranchers and an 80% guarantee for all other guaranteed loans.
  • Applicable to all FSA conservation, ownership, and operating guaranteed loans.