Senate passes Tillis’ farmer relief bill; readies it for president’s signature

The Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), is on its way to being signed into a new federal law.

“Farmers in North Carolina and across the country are reeling from low commodity prices and natural disasters that will take years to recover from,” Sen. Tillis said. “As these farmers rebuild their reserves, they deserve protections during this delicate time when so much could go wrong that is outside of their control.”

The Senate on Aug. 1 approved H.R. 2336, which the U.S. House of Representatives passed on July 25. The chambers reconciled H.R. 2336 with the Senate version, S. 897, which Sen. Tillis cosponsored in March with U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). H.R. 2336 now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

“I’m proud the Senate unanimously passed our bipartisan legislation, which gives our farmers and their families relief, and I look forward to President Trump signing it into law,” said Sen. Tillis.

Under U.S. Bankruptcy Code, financially distressed “family farmers” and “family fishermen” with regular annual income may file for relief under Chapter 12, which enables them to propose and carry out a plan to repay all or part of their debts. 

The Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 increases the Chapter 12 operating debt cap to $10 million from the original $3.237 million, which will allow more family farmers to seek bankruptcy relief.

That’s good news for struggling farmers, who have suffered several years of low commodity prices, strict farm-lending regulations, and market uncertainty, according to Sen. Tillis’ office, which noted that farm bankruptcy rates in many agricultural regions of the country are at their highest point in a decade. 

The Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation.