We the undersigned organizations endorse the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2017 (H.R. 4316), introduced in Congress by Representatives Tim Walz of Minnesota (D-MN-1) and Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska (R-NE-1). This comprehensive and forward-thinking initiative will help a new generation of farmers and ranchers enter agriculture, and we strongly support its inclusion in its entirety in the 2018 Farm Bill.
To keep our agricultural economy strong, the next farm bill needs to facilitate the transfer of skills, knowledge, and land between current and future generations of family farmers. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act lays out a national strategy that breaks down barriers to entry and gives real support to the next generation. This legislation addresses the critical issues new and aspiring farmers face in accessing land, building skills, managing risk and financial security, and investing in conservation to ensure that the 2018 Farm Bill is truly a farm bill for the future.
This legislation would expand beginning farmer access to farmland by increasing the flexibility and effectiveness of land-link programs and protecting farmland affordability through conservation easements. It would also empower new farmers with the skills they need to succeed by securing permanent funding for new farmer training, expanding support for farm transfer and succession planning, and launching a new asset-building financial literacy initiative.
This bill would ensure farmers are able to finance new farm purchases by allowing FSA real estate loans to reflect regional farmland inflation rates and expand risk management options for new and beginning farmers. Finally, this legislation would encourage commitment to conservation and stewardship across generations by increasing participation in conservation programs by beginning farmers.
We applaud the sponsors of this legislation for tackling a pressing concern that too often in the past has been talked about but not acted upon. We urge your strong support to ensure this initiative is enacted into law as part of the new farm bill.
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition