Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, along with nine of his colleagues in the U.S. Senate, and four representatives in the U.S. House, have reintroduced legislation to support beginning farmers. The bill is titled the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2013. The original version was introduced in 2011 for consideration by Congress, but was never passed. Like the previous bill, the new legislation is aimed at helping the next generation of farmers get started in agriculture and take advantage of emerging markets.
Harkin took the lead in introducing the new legislation in the Senate. At the same time, Representative Tim Walz, D-Minn, together with Reps. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., and Collin Peterson, D-Minn., introduced the same bill in the U.S. House as House bill number H.R. 1727. In the Senate, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2013 is Senate bill number S. 837.
"This legislation will help families and individuals across our nation apply their talents, motivation and dedication to start and continue farm and ranch operations which will help support the rural economy," according to Harkin, who says the bill would invest in the next generation of American agriculture.
The bill invests in the next generation of American agricultural producers by:
* Enabling access to land, credit and technical assistance for new producers
* Assisting new producers to launch and strengthen new farm and value-added businesses
* Helping new producers become good land stewards
* Providing training, mentoring and research that beginning farmers and ranchers need to be successful and
* Conducting outreach on agricultural job opportunities for military veterans.