Matched Savings Program Lacks Dedicated Funding
The 2008 Farm Bill includes the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Account Program. This program uses special matched saving accounts to promote a new generation of farmers and ranchers by assisting those of modest means to establish a pattern of savings. The account proceeds may be used toward capital expenditures for a farm or ranch operation, including expenses associated with the purchases of land, buildings, equipment, infrastructure, livestock, or toward training.
For numerous aspiring farmers and ranchers, the actuality of starting their own operation is out of reach. One of the biggest obstacles to new farmers is financing the land and the farm operation. This program can bolster their opportunities by helping them save money on a down payment for example. It will also prepare them for success as a farmer or rancher by requiring the participants to acquire appropriate training that focuses on business planning, banking, conservation planning, market development and more. The program will be tested in at least 15 states before national implementation. However, the farm bill did not provide any dedicated funding, even for the pilot program. The opportunity to make a difference for the next generation of family farmers and ranchers is now. But we must convince the members of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee to seize the opportunity and provide the funds needed to get this program off the ground.