Legislators Urge Support for Beginning Farmers in Farm Bill NegotiationsA group of bipartisan Representatives and Senators delivered letters to the House and Senate leadership on October 24, urging support for beginning farmers in the upcoming farm bill negotiations. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) blogged about this recently. While the House and Senate letters differed, according to NSAC, both letters called on farm bill conferees to adopt the following:
- funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program at no less than the House-passed level of $20 million per year;
- the House-passed provisions that expand credit options for new farmers, including an authorization for USDA to make microloans for beginning and veteran farmers and to launch an intermediary lending pilot modeled after other successful cooperative lending programs such as the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program;
- the Senate-passed funding levels for the Conservation Reserve Program Transition Incentives Program of $50 million over the life of the farm bill in order to help beginning farmers access land from retiring farmers; and
- the House-passed provision that increases the amount of funding that a beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer can receive up front through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.