Rural America Needs A New Generation

In 1900, the work of 30 million Americans, or 39% of our population, produced our food supply. Today fewer than 2% or 2 million Americans farm for a living. Only 70,000 of those are farmers under the age 35, compared to twenty-five years ago when there were 350,000 farmers under the age of 35.
The Center's full report can be found online: Giving a Beginner a Chance in the 2007 Farm Bill.

The viability of rural businesses, schools and other community institutions are all dependent, in part on the existence of new agriculturists on the land. The new farm bill should include incentives to encourage beginning farmers to enter agriculture.

Today’s land values have become astronomical and are unattainable for beginning farmers. With the rise of land values and sales, the cash rents expected by the landowners are following suit, making it hard for young farmers to farm any land at all.

The 2002 Farm Bill established the Beginning Farmer Land Contract pilot program to allow USDA to provide loan guarantees to sellers who self finance the sale of land to beginners. The program is structured to provide the seller with “prompt payment” guarantee. The guarantee covers two amortized annual installments and covers two years of taxes and insurance. The guarantee remains in effect for ten years.

Without a new generation of farmers and ranchers, rural America will cease to exist. The 2007 Farm Bill must keep implementing this program, as well as others to encourage a new generation to return to rural America.

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