Lyons, Neb. - On Wednesday, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act was introduced in Congress by Reps. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).
The bill is to ensure the 2018 farm bill focuses on the future of American agriculture by driving investment toward programs and policies that create opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
The Center for Rural Affairs understands the challenges beginning farmers and ranchers face, and has endorsed the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act.
According to Anna Johnson, Center policy program associate, the average age of today's farmer is 58 years old. Over the course of the next five years (the duration of the next farm bill), nearly 100 million acres of farmland are predicted to change hands.
"While some retiring farmers and ranchers will pass their land and operations to their children or other relatives, many are heading toward retirement without a succession plan in place," Johnson said. "And, beginning farmers taking over lack guidance. We need to support policies that ensure they have the necessary tools and resources to be successful."
The bill expands beginning farmer and rancher access to affordable land; empowers producers with the skills needed to succeed in today's agricultural economy; ensures equitable access to financial capital and federal crop insurance; and encourages commitment to conservation and land stewardship.
"We stand with the congressional sponsors of this legislation in supporting beginning farmers and ranchers," said Johnson. "The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act should be included in the 2018 farm bill."
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