The bill was originally introduced in 2011 to be included in the writing of what should have been the 2012 Farm Bill. Many but not all of the beginning farmer bill's provisions were included in either or both the Senate-passed or House Committee-passed farm bills last year. When the farm bill ended up not being completed and not acted on by Congress in 2012, the beginning farmer bill was modified and has now been re-introduced. The aim remains the same, says Harkin, to get all of its provisions included in the new five-year farm bill reauthorization, a process now underway in Congress.
Goal is to get the beginning farmer provisions included in new five-year farm bill
"We are delighted to see these members of Congress acknowledge the fact that the farm bill should be creative and address beginning farmer and rancher issues," says Traci Bruckner, assistant director for rural policy at the Center for Rural Affairs at Lyons, Neb. "With this bill and the farm bill debate going on this year, we are going to invest in creating a new generation of farmers and ranchers."
Agriculture is essential to our country's well-being, says Fortenberry, a co-sponsor of the beginning farmer bill. "Given that the average age of the American farmer today is 57 years old, we should work to ensure that the next generation of farmers and ranchers has the opportunity to overcome the financial barriers unique to agricultural operations. This bill provides a variety of support options involving access to farm credit for young producers, cost-saving conservation practices, emerging market opportunities such as locally and organically raised foods within regional foods systems, and increased outreach on agricultural job opportunities for our nation's veterans."