House Agriculture Committee Includes Axne’s Rural Equal Aid Act in Build Back Better Act

September 9, 2021
Press Release
Bill to cover half year of USDA loan payments for rural businesses will be considered tomorrow before the full House Agriculture Committee

Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) announced that her bipartisan legislation to provide relief to rural borrowers is included in the draft portion of the Build Back Better Act that will be considered by the House Committee on Agriculture tomorrow.

The Rural Equal Aid Act provides the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) $400 million to make payments for the borrower on certain USDA loans for six months.

This relief mirrors the relief provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act last year, which covered six months of payments for Small Business Administration (SBA) borrowers.

“Main Street businesses in our rural communities are no less deserving of federal relief efforts that have been implemented to help keep folks afloat through tough times. The help we provided last year did not reach the rural businesses that rely more on USDA for their business support, and that’s why I have been pushing for more than a year to mirror that relief through my Rural Equal Aid Act,” said Rep. Axne. “This is a bipartisan, bicameral solution that I’m proud to see included in Agriculture Committee’s section of the Build Back Better Act – and I look forward to advocating for it tomorrow in our mark up.”

This week, House committees are beginning to consider their sections of the Build Back Better Act, a comprehensive legislative package that will tackle a range of issues from infrastructure to health care, education, and climate.

The Rural Equal Aid Act funding included in the initial draft would provide a payment for six months of the loan amount for borrowers using three USDA loan programs:

  • Business and Industry loans made to small businesses, cooperatives, and nonprofits to develop and expand businesses in rural areas.
  • Two loan programs made through small local intermediaries. The borrowers from these programs are often unable to access other credit, and may have been unable to use the Paycheck Protection Program because they don’t have existing banking relationships.
    • The Intermediary Relending Program, which provides loans of no more than $250,000 made to borrowers who are unable to get credit elsewhere, but need capital to get started or expand their business. These loans average less than $100,000 and support small local businesses.
    • The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP), which offers loans of no more than $50,000 through local nonprofits. These loans are available to businesses with no more than 10 employees, making them a frequent choice for entrepreneurs looking for capital to start up a new business. In addition, RMAP loans are frequently used by women entrepreneurs.

The Rural Equal Aid Act was originally introduced in both chambers of Congress in August 2020 by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

The bill was reintroduced by Axne as her first bill of the 117th Congress in January with the help of Reps. Troy Balderson (OH-12), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL), and Jared Golden (ME-02).

The legislation has the support of the Center for Rural Affairs, American Bankers Association, Iowa Bankers Association, National Rural Housing Coalition, and the National Association of Towns and Townships.