Farm Bill 2012: Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

If we want to encourage a new generation to pursue a career in agriculture, we must have a national strategy and commitment to design public policy that addresses the unique needs of beginning farmers and ranchers and helps them embrace opportunities.

Beginning farmers and ranchers face significant challenges, including access to land and capital (due to increasing land values and cash rents) and high input costs. They also continue to face barriers in accessing federal programs designed to assist them with getting started.

Despite these hurdles, there is no shortage of interest from people who desire to farm or ranch. And while there are challenges, there are also great opportunities – good crop prices, the local food movement, alternative livestock production systems and markets, and the growth in organics, to name just a few.

Beginning with the 1990 farm bill, Congress created programs for beginning farmers and ranchers, particularly in the area of farm credit. The 2008 farm bill went further by augmenting existing provisions and crafting several new initiatives and incentives for beginning farmers and ranchers.

As we move to the 2012 farm bill, we will encourage Congress to expand and improve on this base with a comprehensive beginning farmer and rancher initiative that breaks down barriers to entry and gives real support to ensure the effective start-up and success of new small and mid-scale producers across the country.

We will push for greater commitment to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which provides beginning farmer and rancher training and has seen high levels of demand. More flexible credit provisions, increased access to conservation assistance and crop insurance that is relevant to diversified operations will be high priorities. We will also look for opportunities to include tax incentives to encourage leasing or selling land to beginners.

Contact Traci Bruckner for more information, tracib@cfra.org or 402.687.2103 x 1016.