Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Return from D.C.
“Our visits keyed in on securing funding for beginning farmer training, education, and mentoring efforts, as well as establishing the matched savings account program called the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Account,” said Jacob Cowgill, a beginning farmer from Big Sandy, MT, who dreams of making farming a full-time venture. Such a program would enable me to save money to invest in my farming operation,” added Cowgill.
“We are talking about smart, cost effective start-up support and incentives. And even though a very small part of the overall farm bill budget, it is means tested to ensure funds go only to farmers with limited assets,” said Steve Schwartz, Executive Director for California Farmlink.
The House version of the bill includes $15 million in dedicated money for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which supports community-led beginning farmer training programs. The Senate included the same provision in its bill, but it lacked mandatory funding. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Account Pilot Program was included in the Senate bill but without the dedicated funding.
While a House-Senate Farm Bill conference committee has not been scheduled, negotiations over funding measures and policy continue between Congressional leaders and the Bush Administration. Action is expected before the current 2002 Farm Bill extension concludes in March.
The fly-in was sponsored by the Center for Rural Affairs, California Farmlink, Land Stewardship Project and the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Some of the farmers and ranchers participating in the fly-in include Daniel Rosmann from Harlan, IA, John Leonard from El Reno, OK, Jacob Cowgill from Missoula, MT, Brittany Whitmire from NC, and David Silveira, Jesus Escobar, and Steve Schwartz from CA.