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Nebraska Ag News Headlines
Fischer, Klobachur Legislation to Expand Farmer Access to Precision Ag
Nebraska Ag Connection - 09/17/2021

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has introduced the Precision Agriculture Loan (PAL) Act.

The bipartisan legislation 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. Precision agriculture is a wide range of new technologies in farming and ranching that can allow producers to reduce their environmental footprint, lower costs, and improve productivity.

The PAL Act is co-sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

"Farmers and ranchers take care of our land and resources, and precision agriculture equipment can help them expand on this good work. High upfront costs, however, mean many operations struggle to access these cutting-edge and climate-friendly technologies. Our bipartisan legislation will allow more producers to invest in the equipment they need to make their operations more efficient, environmentally friendly, and productive," said Senator Fischer.

The World Economic Forum estimates that if just a quarter of the world's farms adopted precision agricultural practices, farm yields globally could increase by 15%. Greenhouse gas emissions and water use would decrease by 10% and 20%, respectively.

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.

This 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.

"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.

"For decades, University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers have worked to develop precision technologies and tools to make crop and livestock production more efficient, sustainable and profitable. These technologies are vitally important, but they only work if producers have access to them. I applaud Sen. Fischer for introducing this legislation to help American and Nebraskan producers stay on the cutting edge of agriculture," said Mike Boehm, NU Vice President and Harlan Vice Chancellor for UNL's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

"At Northeast, we are educating the next generation of producers as they introduce new precision technologies on their home farms. This loan program will be a great way to help farmers access these new technologies to lower input costs and protect our agricultural land," said Dr. Leah Barrett, president of Northeast Community College.

"We are grateful to Senators Fischer and Klobuchar for introducing legislation that will provide resources for growers to adopt precision agriculture technologies. The use of cloud-based remote telemetry and irrigation scheduling technologies will allow our nation's producers to increase yields, while reducing inputs such as energy and water. The Precision Agriculture Loan Program Act is common sense legislation that will enable growers to produce more while consuming less," said Randy Wood, president and CEO of Lindsay Corporation.


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