Tom Harkin Talks About Farm Bill, Beginning Farmers

The following is an excerpt from an article written by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin on Beginning Farmers. Sen. Harkin has been a great supporter of beginning farmer legislation and authored much of the language on beginning farmer programs that is in the current farm bill. The article appeared in Iowa Farmer Today under the title Farm Bill Boosts Beginning Farmers. You can view the full article at

A common refrain in rural communities across our country is we need more new farmers and ranchers. To keep U.S. agriculture thriving, we must help this new generation to produce vital supplies of food, fuel and fiber, conserve our natural resources, and help sustain and revitalize rural communities.

It is well known most people seeking to get started in agriculture face very daunting challenges. Fortunately, there are many highly motivated and capable people who are dedicated to a career in agriculture. With just a little help, their prospects for overcoming those challenges really brighten.

That is why it is so important to have national policies that encourage and enhance opportunities for young people who are aspiring to a life in agriculture. I am proud that as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I authored and included special provisions and dedicated funding for beginning farmers and ranchers in the 2002 and 2008 farm bills. These initiatives help educate and train young farmers. They also help them secure credit, lease or buy farmland, practice sound conservation and grow income-producing enterprises.

In preparation for the new farm bill, I introduced legislation to extend and expand the assistance to farmers who are starting out. These provisions were included in the previous bills. I am encouraged the new bill incorporates a good share of my proposals to continue and strengthen help to beginning farmers across our nation.

To aid beginning farmers in obtaining critically needed training and technical advice, the new farm bill extends and increases funding for grants to organizations conducting such educational programs. A new priority for use of these grants will be serving the needs of military veterans through agricultural rehabilitation and vocational training. The farm bill also creates a special liaison at USDA whose job is to advocate for and assist veterans — especially those who are starting out as farmers — in using agricultural programs…

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