HELENA — The state Senate is considering a bill passed by the House 62-38 late last month that would provide partial forgiveness of student loans for farmers.
Introduced by Rep. Zach Brown, D-Bozeman, House Bill 631 would repay up to half of a farmer’s student loans if he or she commits to farming or ranching for a minimum of five years.
“Student loan debt is a big issue facing our economy in general,” Brown said. “It’s holding back young professionals.”
Brown said the issue is particularly relevant to the agriculture industry, which he described as “aging.” According to the latest statistics from the USDA’s Ag Census, which is done every five years, the average age of the American farmer in 2012 was 58. That’s five years older than the average age in 1992, which was 53.