Pingree, Higgins Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Fishing Communities
The Fishing Industry Credit Enhancement Act would allow businesses that directly support fishing industry to access existing agriculture loan programs
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Congressman Clay Higgins (R-La.) today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to expand financial support for fishing communities in Maine and across the country. The Fishing Industry Credit Enhancement Act would allow businesses that provide direct assistance to fishing operations – like gear producers or cold storage – to access loans from the Farm Credit System (FCS). Companion legislation has been introduced by U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
“Fisheries are an incredibly important part of Maine’s economy, heritage, and culture, and sustain entire communities along our coasts and beyond. A lot goes into getting the day’s catch from the Gulf of Maine to consumers’ plates—but under our current system, the hardworking people who are essential to the fishing industry don’t have access to the financial support the Farm Credit System offers,” said Pingree, a member of the House Agriculture Committee. “Small businesses that directly help our iconic fishing industry—such as businesses that provide cold storage or make fishing gear—should be able to depend on the Farm Credit System as countless farmers, ranchers, and loggers have for decades. Extending these benefits through the Fishing Industry Credit Enhancement Act just makes sense.”
“Louisiana is home to a strong generational seafood industry, and our fishermen deserve a level playing field,” said Higgins. “Our legislation provides greater parity for America’s seafood producers and the supporting industries. We are working to provide the same financial opportunities and loan access that other agricultural commodities are entitled to.”
“The Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) supports legislation that would allow Farm Credit institutions to lend to fishing-related businesses in the same way they lend to farm-related businesses. This change will increase the options for and availability of credit to businesses supporting the fishing industry in Maine and other coastal states,” said Patrice McCarron, Executive Director of the Maine Lobstermen's Association. “The economies of Maine’s coastal communities center around commercial fishing and the businesses that support the fishing industry in the same way that many rural communities revolve around farming and businesses supporting farming. Fishing-related businesses deserve the same access to competitive financing.”
The Farm Credit System (FCS) is a network of lending institutions that provides credit to the agriculture industry. It was founded in Congress in 1916 to help farmers who historically struggled to access reliable credit and has since provided almost a million loans totaling more than $373 billion to farmers, ranchers, fishermen, aquatic producers, and more. Borrowers must meet eligibility and creditworthiness requirements. It currently provides more than one-third of the credit used by those who live and work in rural America.