In 2007, the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness program was put into effect—giving young college students incentive to pursue an education and career in critical fields, including: education, healthcare, nonprofits, various government and public positions. The program forgives the rest of a federal student debt after ten years of income-driven repayment.
One public service that is not currently covered by program? Farming. Though the National Young Farmers Coalition aims to change that fact. A bill is currently making its way through politicians that would add young farmers to the list of public service professionals that could enjoy the benefits of the forgiveness program.
According to the NYFC, 63% of the nation’s farmland is on the cusp of transition, from one generation to the newest. Unfortunately, the number of farmers within the newer generation is decreasing—not due to lack of interest, but rather lack of wealth. Between the steep debt of student loans (the average American college student graduates with $37,000 of debt) and the rising costs of farmland purchase and maintenance, young farmers simply can’t begin a career. Most are forced to seek their income off-farm.
Farmers are the backbone of America. Their hard work results not only in food on the table, but feed for livestock, crops for ethanol, useful animal products, other consumable products (such as biodegradable plastics), and various exports. Needless to say, their contributions make them wholly deserving to be part of the student loan forgiveness program.
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