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State Senate Approves Rural Capital Access Bill
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 11/11/2019

Rural business owners, including dairy manufacturers and processors, may soon have the opportunity to apply for financial capital under a bill approved last week by the Wisconsin state Senate. Under SB 219, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority will establish a pilot program using existing funds available through the Agribusiness Guarantee Program to apply for loans.

The measure would allocate $3 million in loan guarantee authority to support rural development projects, including brick-and-mortar investments, equipment and machinery, marketing, and working capital.

The pilot would guarantee up to 25 percent of a loan, or $750,000, whichever is less. The borrower is required to pay back the entirety of the loan, with a state commitment only coming into play in the event of a default. All borrowers would be subject to rigorous vetting to participate in the program.

"Wisconsin's dairy industry has faced a myriad of challenges in recent years, from the tumult of international trade to low milk prices that stress the financial picture for our farm family partners," said John Umhoefer of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. "This legislation will spark lending opportunities for our rural businesses, allowing owners to invest in their companies, innovate and grow, add good-paying jobs and expand a dependable local tax base."

Conceived by Wisconsin Dairy Task Force 2.0 members, the bill now goes to Gov. Tony Evers for his signature.

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