Farmers also benefit from student loan relief
Michigan’s independent family farmers work hard to support their families and feed their communities, but too often debt is a serious obstacle. For farmers who have attended college, they may have taken out student loans that take them years to repay, if at all. Recent White House action on the student debt crisis will help farmers and their families.
Coming from a rural farming community, I know many hard-working people who are still paying off their student loans. But some of the chatter I’ve heard from prominent critics of White House executive action has unfairly pitted farmers against those who benefit from student loan forgiveness, implying that farmers don’t benefit no such support.
This rhetoric against the debt relief effort has been echoed by elected officials, experts, political organizations and candidates online and in media interviews, including a candidate for governor here in Michigan. I make no judgment for or against their overall political views, but I think they are wrong on this point.
For me, as a farmer and president of the Michigan Farmers Union – the state’s grassroots voice for independent family farmers, this news comes with a huge opportunity. We must stop creating artificial divides between farmers and other members of the working class.
Farmers, like everyone else, have struggled throughout the pandemic, and the cash assistance the government has sent has been a lifeline for many, especially those who were already struggling to join the two. ends. The latest student debt relief will help ease that pain that too many of us have felt.
People who receive this student loan relief have found it necessary to go to college to achieve their goals. People from all walks of life – including farmers – probably know someone or are struggling to repay their student loans themselves.
Many independent family farmers are already in debt, and easing some of that burden is a big boon.
These student loan reforms, which include caps on payment amounts, will also help encourage new farmers to enter the field, because we’re going to need people to run the farms, and they should be able to afford go to the University.
Right now, the majority of farmland in this country is about to be passed on to the next generation, which means cultivating a new generation of farmers should be a priority. A college education is one way to achieve this.
For beginning farmers looking to start a new farming operation, it’s a big bet if you’ve already taken out thousands of dollars in student loans, especially if you need to take on additional debt to start a farm. People shouldn’t have to choose between paying off their student debt and starting to farm.
Everyone deserves access to an affordable, quality education, and student debt shouldn’t be a barrier to that opportunity. No one should be punished for trying to advance their education, and independent family farmers should not be used as political pawns to argue against these reforms that will help millions.
Bob Thompson is president of the Michigan Farmers Union.