Fostering the Next Family Farm and Ranch Generation

In the coming week, Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Tim Walz (D-MN), Chris Gibson (D-NY) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) will re-introduce the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) will do the same in the Senate.

While there is no silver bullet for reversing America’s family farm and ranch exodus, there are proven strategies that create opportunities for beginners. And the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act was written to invest in those strategies and help new farmers and ranchers overcome barriers and take advantage of emerging markets.

Nurturing the next generation of family farmers and ranchers is a long row to hoe. And this bill is smart, cost-effective public policy that will create jobs and invest in rural America’s future through training, mentoring, business planning and other services for farm and ranch startups. It will also fund the highly effective Value Added Producer Grants program with emphasis on projects benefiting new farmers and ranchers.

Moreover, the bill creates saving and enhanced lending provisions that help beginners access credit and establish savings while providing incentives to assist them in establishing conservation and sustainable practices. The Center for Rural Affairs applauds the bipartisan sponsors of this legislation. Rural Americans will need to equal their courage and dedication to fostering the next family farm and ranch generation to ensure that the Farm Bill being written this year includes this policy and more that create genuine economic opportunity and a better quality of life throughout rural America.