As the U.S. Senate begins consideration of S.3240, the Farm Bill, Senator Lisa Murkowski today filed an amendment to level the playing field for commercial fishermen, allowing them to compete for the same existing loan funds that fish farmers and traditional farmers compete for.
"The Department of Agriculture considers fish an agriculture product, we allow fish farmers to be eligible for loans to help them buy equipment and supplies -- so why won't we open the same door for our commercial fishermen?" asked Murkowski. "Replacing worn fishing gear, rising fuel costs, and other operating costs are part of doing business, and supporting our commercial fishermen through hard times with access to operating loans is just as important as supporting our rural farmers through hard times."
The United States Department of Agriculture currently makes low interest loans available to traditional farmers and fish farm operators through its Farm Services Administration (FSA) Farm Operating Loan Program. Fish have been defined by the Agriculture Department as an agriculture product since 1937.
Senator Murkowski's amendment has the co-sponsorship of Senators Scott Brown (R-MA), John Kerry (D-MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Senator Murkowski is also co-sponsoring two related bills filed by Senator Kerry to provide commercial fishermen access to the Department of Agriculture's Emergency Loan Program and the Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program.