Newswire : Senate passes Jones amendment to fund Heirs’ Property Program

Sen. Doug Jones speaking on floor of the Senate

WASHINGTON – By a vote of 91-1, the Senate passed an amendment on Monday, October 29, 2019, introduced by Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) to help heirs’ property landowners secure a clear title for their land. The amendment to the FY2020 Agriculture Appropriations bill includes $5 million to fund a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program Senator Jones was able to include in the 2018 Farm Bill. His provision authorized the Farm Service Agency to make loans that will help families resolve heir’s property ownership and succession issues.
The Federation of Southern Cooperatives and the Rural Coalition worked on helping to frame the language for the heirs property sections of the 2018 Farm Bill which were introduced in a bi-partisan effort by Jones and Senator Tim Scott (R – SC).
Senator Jones took to the Senate floor immediately before the vote to encourage his colleagues to support the amendment. Copies of his statement are available on his werbsite.
Heirs’ property is land that has been informally passed down within families, often for several generations when the original owner fails to make a will. This can lead to costly legal complications and prevent landowners from qualifying for federal assistance. Heirs’ property is predominantly owned by African American farmers and producers and an estimated 60-percent of minority-owned land is projected to be heirs’ property.
Challenges associated with heirs’ property status are the leading cause of involuntary land loss among African Americans. Landowners of heirs’ property also cannot qualify for USDA loans necessary for farming, receive disaster relief funding, or use their land as collateral in private lending. More background on heirs’ property and the amendment are on the Senator’s website
Over the past year, Senator Jones has led a bipartisan effort in the U.S. Senate to help these landowners gain fair access to federal programs and to make it easier to resolve legal issues that result from their heirs’ property status. In addition to the re-lending provision, Senator Jones also secured a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill to help heirs’ property owners obtain a USDA farm number, which is key to accessing assistance from the agency’s programs.
More information on Heirs Property and an upcoming national confertence is also available at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives website at www.federation.coop.

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