Lame Duck Inaction on Farm Bill threatens Innovation

Congress has unfinished business to tackle during the lame duck session, including the Farm Bill. If congress fails to act, or passes a short-term extension without adequate funding for conservation and rural development, crucial rural investments will be in jeopardy.
Investment in the next generation of family farmers and ranchers would dry up. Barriers for beginners include capital, access to affordable land, and lack of training opportunities. And the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program provides training that helps beginners build their farm business plan so they can access capital. It also provides linking opportunities, helping break down the land access barrier by matching beginners with retiring landowners.

The Conservation Reserve Program Transition Incentives will also screech to a halt with Congressional inaction. This program helps beginners gain access to land coming out of retirement under the Conservation Reserve Program.

The Value Added Producer Grant Program helps producers establish high-value, niche markets. A small amount of funding came through the Continuing Resolution passed by Congress earlier this year, so it will continue in the near term. But the program will still not have as much as either the Senate or House versions of the Farm Bill would provide.

The Rural Microenterprise Assistance Program also has a small amount of funding, but the Senate version of the Farm Bill will allow the program to go much further in helping rural small business development.

Congress needs to pass a Farm Bill, one that invests in these innovative programs.

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