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Axne bill pushes rural community loan relief

IARN — Iowa Third District Congresswoman Cindy Axne recently introduced a bill that would support rural businesses by providing up to nine months of USDA loan relief.

Late last month, Axne cosponsored the Rural Equal Aid Act which would cover the full principal, interest, and fees on certain U.S. Department of Agriculture loans for six months, and up to $9,000 per month for an additional three months after that. Axne says the legislation aims to help rural communities that are struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It provides nine months of payments for the various USDA rural development loan programs,” Axne said. “What’s happened throughout COVID is the SBA has engaged with us on multiple levels to get loans out to small businesses, and those folks who received those small business assistance loans have been able to get loan relief. However, if you have a loan through USDA, that loan relief isn’t there. I wanted to make sure that our rural businesses who have these USDA loans can stay in business just like those that were offered the SBA loans.”

The West Des Moines Democrat says the bill has the support of the Center for Rural Affairs, American Bankers Association, Iowa Bankers Association, National Rural Housing Coalition, and the National Association of Towns and Townships.

“This is really important to not just our rural communities in Iowa and the economic viability for those businesses, but the money they put back in those communities by keeping people employed and certainly having the opportunity for people to come and spend cash to make sure they can keep those businesses afloat as well,” Axne said. “This is common sense. I think when we support rural Iowa that we also support all of Iowa. For me, it’s important not to leave these communities behind.”

The Rural Equal Aid Act was originally introduced by Axne in August 2020. The updated version of the legislation provides the extra three months of relief of up to $9,000 per month to mirror additional SBA relief provided in December’s COVID-19 relief package.

Story courtesy of the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network