Growing up in Plainville, Kansas, gave me a genuine appreciation for the special way of life found in rural Kansas. The selflessness of Kansans surfaces every time a community is faced with adversity ranging from tornadoes, wildfires and floods to a neighbor’s loss of a loved one. Kansans stick together; they work together and in rural communities; they live their lives together. 

In Congress, I represented one of the most rural Congressional districts in America. Throughout this time, I worked to protect and enhance that special way of life we enjoy. There are key ingredients needed to sustain a vibrant rural community – great schools, hospitals, healthcare providers and high-speed internet – that are necessary in any community but especially in rural America. Another requirement for the well-being of small communities and the future of rural Kansas is the presence of a strong community bank.

While traveling across Kansas, I’ve seen that the best sign of economic success and in rural towns is the existence of a local grocery store. I also recognize those same grocery stores often wouldn’t exist without financing from a local “relationship” bank that has provided the capital necessary for that store’s continued existence. From short-term emergency loans to future-building investments like a home mortgage or small business loan, Kansas community banks support and advance our communities across the state.

I sponsored the Enhancing Credit Opportunities for Rural America Act (ECORA), which will benefit rural borrowers of agricultural credit and rural home mortgage loans through lower interest rates and greater access to credit. Specifically, when community banks provide loans to farmers and ranchers secured by agricultural real estate, the interest from those loans would be exempt from federal income tax. Likewise, this exemption would apply to single family home mortgage loans in rural Kansas communities with a population of 2,500 or less. 

The ECORA Act will promote business growth, job creation and serve as an incentive for community banks to invest in rural housing. It will provide lower interest rates for Kansas farmers and ranchers struggling with low commodity prices. The act will also help sustain the presence of rural community banks by making them more competitive and able to meet the financing needs of their customers. It is time for Congress to take action on this measure, and I will continue to push for access to credit that strengthens the special way of life found in Kansas and rural America.