Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Support Young Farmers

Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Support Young Farmers

U.S. Representatives Tim Walz (D-MN) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) have introduced the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (BFROA) of 2017 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Their bipartisan legislation is aimed at recruiting and supporting the next generation of American farmers.


“It is among our top priorities as a nation to ensure our next generation of farmers is able to provide the U.S. and the world with a safe, abundant food supply,” said Rep. Walz. “To accomplish this goal, we must provide young Americans with the training and tools they need to take up and keep up farms of their own. By promoting access to land, making credit readily available, and funding world-class research and education programs, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act works to do just that.”

According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture provided by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of USDA, the average age of the American farmer increased from 57 in 2007 to 58 in 2012.

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act lays out a national beginning farmer strategy to support the next generation. This legislation addresses the issues new and aspiring farmers face in accessing land, building skills, managing risk and financial security, and investing in conservation to ensure that the next Farm Bill is truly a farm bill for the future.

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2017 will invest in the next generation of American producers by:

  • Expanding beginning farmers’ access to affordable land
  • Empowering new farmers with the skills to succeed in today’s agricultural economy
  • Ensuring equitable access to financial capital and federal crop insurance
  • Encouraging commitment to conservation and stewardship across generations

The legislation builds upon the numerous provisions of Rep. Walz and Fortenberry’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2013 that were incorporated into the 2014 Farm Bill. Specifically, the 2014 Farm Bill helps new producers access credit; increases land access for beginning farmers; removes barriers to accessing crop insurance; promotes land stewardship; invests in farm training programs; and provides assistance to veterans hoping to begin a life in farming.

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Matt says:

These efforts will do very little to encourage young farmers. The government keeps piling on regulations, Federal agencies sue farmers for plowing land (see case in California), apply onerous regulation that increase expenses, but provide no return (Food Safety Modernization Act) and the list goes on. The government encourages speculation in land by allowing foreign corporations to securitize land into mutual funds. Those funds then “Rent” land back to farmers, essentially making them slaves to a foreign entity. This is stuff we fought a war against centuries ago.

If government wants to lower the price of land (and this is a state by state issue) they would tax land according to its potential use for land zoned agricultural UNLESS the land is actively being farmed by it’s current owner. Not rented, not leased out, etc, but actively being farmed. This would QUICKLY eliminate land speculation. There is a LOT of land that is being help by corporations AND individuals for the sole purpose of speculating on increasing land value. If local governments could tax land based on its potential use (usually development) then those who are simply holding it for later sale would have to pay the appropriate taxes. This would disincentivize them from long term speculation in land. This would then bring ag land back down to realistic prices that a beginning farmer could eventually pay off by raising crops.

There is so much more that could be done, other than throw a small amount of money at a few young people.

Marie Rossi says:

This is not a good idea. Just another way to spend taxpayer money foolishly. If someone truly wants to farm, it takes a lot of commitment. There are schools that offer programs. Stop giving stuff away. It never works.