New Fischer, Klobuchar Bill Expands Farmers’ Access to Precision Agriculture Equipment, Climate-Friendly Technologies

New Fischer, Klobuchar Bill Expands Farmers’ Access to Precision Agriculture Equipment, Climate-Friendly Technologies
OK State
September 16th, 2021 | Senator Deb Fischer

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Agriculture committee, today 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.

“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. 

“America’s economic well-being depends on the health of our farmlands. This legislation will support farmers by helping them invest in precision agriculture tools like soil mapping and aerial imagery technologies that reduce costs and help protect our environment. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan bill with Senator Fischer, and I will continue pushing for policies to strengthen rural communities nationwide,” said Senator Klobuchar.

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.

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.

“The Association of Equipment Manufacturers applauds Senators Deb Fischer and Amy Klobuchar for their steadfast leadership on behalf of rural America and for introducing the Precision Agriculture Loan Program Act of 2021. This important legislation recognizes the critical role that precision agriculture technology, such as machine section control, auto guidance, variable rate technology, telematics, and precision irrigation, plays in promoting climate-smart agriculture. AEM’s own research shows that increased adoption of precision agriculture technology in the crop farming industry can have a significant environmental and economic impact for farmers in maximizing productivity, crop yields, fertilizer use, herbicide use, fossil fuel use, and water use, as well as reducing carbon emissions. The Precision Agriculture Loan Program Act of 2021 will give U.S. farmers a whole new set tools to help achieve climate goals while continuing to feed and fuel the world,” said Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

“America’s farmers have been environmental stewards for generations, but 21st Century technologies to help farmers increase crop yield while reducing their impact on the climate can be extremely expensive. CRES thanks Senator Fischer for her leadership in introducing the Precision Agriculture Loan Act, which will help family farmers invest in technology helping Americans more easily adopt climate friendly practices,” said Heather Reams, Executive Director, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.

“No one understands the importance of environmental stewardship better than America’s farmers. As we work as a nation to address environmental challenges, including climate change, farmers should continue to be on the frontlines of implementing practices that lower carbon emissions and increase the efficient use of our precious natural resources. The American Conservation Coalition thanks Senator Fischer for her work to increase access to precision agriculture technologies and for her continued leadership on smart climate solutions,” said Quill Robinson, Vice President of Government Affairs for the American Conservation Coalition.

“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.

Both Sen. Fischer and Sen. Klobuchar were co-sponsors of the Growing Climate Solutions Act.

Read a one-pager summarizing the PAL Act here.

Read the full text of the PAL Act here

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