Federal Bill Would Increase Loan Access to Businesses Helping Fishing Operations

Image: Sen. Lisa Murkowski via Twitter.

Legislation introduced in Congress in early June would allow businesses providing direct assistance to fishing operations, including gear producers and cold storage, to access the same loans from the Farm Credit System (FCS) already offered to land-based farmers and ranchers.

“The Fishing Industry Credit Enhancement Act is a straightforward, common-sense amendment to the Farm Credit Act of 1971 ensuring businesses that support Alaska’s fishing industry—our ranchers of the sea—have the same financing opportunities as businesses supporting our land-based farmers and ranchers,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who introduced the bill with Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.

The Fishing Industry Credit Enhancement Act would allow fishing-support businesses to access the loans of the Farm Credit System like similar small businesses working with livestock and crop farmers. The loans are economic drivers for rural communities, and can help businesses invest in new expansions, hire more workers, or modernize operations.

Farm Credit Council President and Chief Operating Officer Todd Van Hoose said the legislation would provide more financing options for rural fishing communities, and that businesses providing services directly to commercial fishing operators are also impacted by the same pressures as those engaged in the domestic fishing industry.

“These fishing related businesses need access to competitive financing to maintain service to the U.S. fishing industry,” he remarked.

The Farm Credit System, a network of lending institutions that provides credit to the agriculture industry, was founded by Congress in 1916 to help farmers who struggled historically to access reliable credit. To date, the FCS has provided nearly one million loans totaling over $373 billion to farmers, ranchers, fishermen, aquatic producers and others, according to U.S. Government data.

Borrowers must meet eligibility and creditworthiness requirements. These loans currently provide over one-third of the credit used by people living and working in rural America.