U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Agriculture committee, introduced the Precision Agriculture Loan (PAL) Act on Sept. 15. 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 Sen. 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 Sen. 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% in interest, producers would be eligible for interest rates lower than 2% 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 of tools to help achieve climate goals while continuing to feed and fuel the world,” said Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.
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.