Act calls for financial and entrepreneurial training, apprentice programs, and new financing options for beginners
On May 16, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, a comprehensive set of policy options designed to meet the unique challenges and opportunities of today’s beginning farmers and ranchers, was introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Sponsors include Senators Harkin (D-IA), Grassley (R-IA), Brown (D-OH), and Baucus (D-MT) and Representatives Hereseth Sandlin (D-SD), McCollum (D-MN), and Walz (D-MN).
The need for the 2007 farm bill to include such an initiative could not be clearer. Farmers over the age of 65 outnumber those under 35 by more than two to one. A majority of farmland and farm business assets is owned by those over 65 as well. In 1978, 350,000 farmers aged 34 or younger claimed farming as their primary occupation. By the 2002 Census of Agriculture, just over 70,000 people aged 34 or younger made the same claim.