By Anna Johnson, Center for Rural Affairs
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.
Some retiring farmers and ranchers will pass their land and operations to their children or other relatives, however, many are heading toward retirement without a succession plan in place.
Today’s beginning farmers juggle a great deal in raising and marketing crops and livestock. We need to support policies that ensure they have the necessary tools and resources to be successful.
In November, congressional lawmakers introduced the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act to ensure the 2018 farm bill focuses on the future of American agriculture. The bill provides for programs and policies that would create opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
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 congressional sponsors of this legislation in supporting beginning farmers and ranchers. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act should be included in the 2018 farm bill.
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.