Two Senators introduce Precision Agriculture Loan Act to make ag tech more accessible
New precision ag tools are introduced every year, but they can be expensive for small to mid-sized farms. There is legislation designed to make this technology more accessible.
U.S. Senators Deb Fischer and Amy Klobuchar have introduced the Precision Agriculture Loan Act. The bipartisan legislation would create a USDA loan program for farmers and ranchers interested in purchasing precision ag equipment.
“When we look at all the new technology that is available for people in agriculture and what it can do to help with profitability, with good conservation methods, better crop production, and taking care of livestock better. It just has so many opportunities out there for ag producers but it does cost money and it’s pretty expensive, especially if you’re a smaller ag producer,” Sen. Fischer states.
She says that precision ag technology can help improve productivity and lower costs on the farm.
According to the Senator, “There’s just so many benefits out there that they’d be able to use, especially if they have sensors that can tell them when they need to apply water. If they have video monitoring in a cattle feedlot or pork production facility so that they can tell if one of their animals is suffering some ill health if they’re not looking like they usually do in their usual environment, and they can address those issues earlier.”
It also can benefit the environment, according to estimates from the World Economic Forum.
“When we look at the benefits that they can see from it-- it’s huge... If we saw a quarter of the farms globally practice precision agriculture, they’d see a 15 percent increase in their yields,” she notes. “They would see a 20 percent savings with their water. So, you’d have water conservation.”
Despite growing tension in the ag committees, Sen. Fischer says that there are still bipartisan opportunities to support ag.
“You know, we have a lot of issues in the ag committee that are easily bipartisan, and I would say the committee as a whole, we tend to focus on those-- this is one. Of course, if you look at the climate solutions bill that came out of ag committee, I was one of the first Republicans in the committee to get on that bill and co-sponsor it. And, it passed the full Senate by an overwhelming vote. So, there are issues out there that we can continue to work together on and that’s one of my goals so that we can help ag producers help the ag economy all across this country,” she adds.
If passed, the PAL Act would be the first federal loan program dedicated entirely to precision agriculture, and producers would be eligible for interest rates lower than 2 percent terms from three to twelve years in length.