Legislation that will assist farms with loans to buy equipment has been approved by the New Jersey Assembly.

The bill (S2401/A3810/2535) , sponsored by Ocean County Assemblyman Ron Dancer and Hal Wirths from Sussex County, creates a 15-year small-loan program for farmers, farm co-ops and dairies to finance machinery purchases.

The program will be administered by the Economic Development Authority.

“There’s no way around it. Modern farm equipment is very expensive,” Wirths (R). “The federal government has a loan program for farmers, but the thin profit margins can make the short loan durations impractical for farmers. These long-term loans will be more farmer-friendly, with lower interest rates and payments.”

Wirths adds that the loans can be especially useful for value-added dairy operations producing cheese, cultured sour cream, yogurt, butter and ice cream.

“In the Garden State, farms are a big part of our identity,” Dancer (R). “This program and the loans could be the difference in farms remaining in business or shutting down and selling out to developers.”

Senator Steve Oroho sponsors the Senate bill, which passed unanimously in January.

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