Oct 4, 2022
U.S. House, Senate to consider precision ag loan program

Legislation introduced in the U.S. House and Senate would establish a federal loan program for precision agriculture through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, Illinios, and Randy Feenstra, Iowa, recently introduced the Precision Agriculture Loan Program (PAL) Act of 2022. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.

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“With rising fertilizer costs and environmental concerns, it’s more important than ever to promote precision agriculture,” Bustos said in a news release. “Unfortunately, high costs make this cutting-edge technology out of reach for too many farmers in the Heartland. That’s why I’m proud to join bipartisan legislation with Congressman Randy Feenstra to help more family farmers access climate-smart technologies as we work to reduce our impact on the environment and reduce input costs in agriculture.”

The bill lists a number of technologies in use to improve farming:

  • Global Positioning System-based or geospatial mapping;
  • Satellite or aerial imagery;
  • Yield monitors;
  • Soil mapping;
  • Sensors for gathering data on crop conditions; and
  • Network connectivity products and solutions.

Research at universities, including Iowa State, and other scientific advancements have made precision agriculture technology a component of modern farming, Feenstra said.

“From sustainability efforts to improved yields, precision agriculture simultaneously helps Iowa farmers be profitable and successful, protects our environment, and powers our rural economy,” he said in the release.

If passed, the Precision Agriculture Loan Program Act would offer loans up to $500,000 between 3-12 years in length at interest rates of less than 2%. A list of acceptable precision agriculture technologies would be approved by the Farm Service Agency and covered by USDA. Farmers would also be able to retrofit existing equipment with new technologies.

“The PAL Act will open doors for future generations of farmers, giving them the tools to adopt climate-smart agricultural practices,” Kip Eideberg, senior vice president of government and industry relations for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, said in the release. “America’s farmers are always asked to do more with less – and precision agriculture is the exact solution that will empower our farmers to handle this demand.”

Photo: A tractor operator pulls the machine that University of Florida scientists are using to try to get rid only of unwanted weeds – and avoid spraying strawberries – as they spray the plasticulture fields at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center. Photo: Nathan Boyd/University of Florida

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