Murkowski, King Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Rural Fishing Communities

The Fishing Industry Credit Enhancement Act would allow businesses that directly support fishing industry to access existing agriculture loan program

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Angus King (I-Maine) have introduced bipartisan legislation to expand financial support for America’s fishing communities. The Fishing Industry Credit Enhancement Act would allow businesses that provide direct assistance to fishing operations – like gear producers or cold storage – to access the same loans from the Farm Credit System (FCS) already offered to service providers for farmers, ranchers, and loggers.

“Alaska is home to a unique agriculture industry.  That’s why it’s as important as ever that our national policies surrounding farming, ranching, and ag reflect not only the priorities of those in the Lower 48, but also the unique needs of communities across the state. The Fishing Industry Credit Enhancement Act is a straightforward, common-sense amendment to the Farm Credit Act of 1971 ensuring businesses that support Alaska’s fishing industry – our ranchers of the sea – have the same financing opportunities as businesses supporting our land-based farmers and ranchers,” said Senator Murkowski.

“Maine’s fishing industry is more than just the hardworking folks who catch and harvest our delicious seafood, it is also hundreds of small family businesses that make gear, build and maintain fish freezers, and distribute the state’s iconic produce around the world,” said Senator King. “The Fishing Industry Credit Enhancement Act would allow fishing-support businesses to access the loans of the Farm Credit System like similar small businesses working with livestock and crop farmers. These reliable loans are huge economic drivers for rural communities, helping businesses invest in new expansions, hire more workers, or modernize operations. I’m proud to join with Senator Murkowski on this commonsense, bipartisan effort, and hope we can get it passed to support fishing communities.”

“Senators King and Murkowski are passionate advocates for U.S. fishermen, and we thank them for introducing the Fishing Industry Credit Enhancement Act. Supporting rural communities is a vital piece of Farm Credit’s mission, and this bill will provide more financing options for our rural fishing communities,”said Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose. “Businesses providing services directly to the commercial fishing operators are also impacted by same the pressures as the U.S. domestic fishing industry. These fishing-related businesses need access to competitive financing to maintain service to the U.S. fishing industry.”

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.