U.S. Representatives Zach Nunn (IA-03) and Jasmine Crockett (TX-30) today introduced bipartisan legislation, the Next Generation of Farmers Act, to support new and beginning farmers with loans to purchase farmland.
“Feeding and fueling the world is done because of the hands, hearts, and hard work of Iowa’s farmers,” Rep. Nunn said. “Young Americans who are willing to do the essential work we need should be commended and supported however we can help. This bill is a critical step forward to ensure young, starting farmers have the tools they need to purchase farmland and continue the tradition of agriculture in the United States.”
More than half of U.S. farmland is on the brink of changing ownership over the next two decades, so the 2023 Farm Bill is an important opportunity to address the challenges keeping land out of reach for our next generation of farmers.
“We have got to lower the barrier to farming for the next generation,” Rep. Crockett said. “Your average farmer today is 65 years old, and when it comes time to retire, the only people able to buy the land from our farmers are developers. When we lose this farmland, Americans lose a critical source of food, fiber, and fuel. But there’s good news: we actually have a new, eager generation of young, diverse people who are ready and raring to go into farming. However the outdated credit application rules bar many from getting the loans they need to purchase the farmland. The Next Generation of Farmers Act breaks down these barriers to credit access, and protects America’s farmland and food supply for generations to come!”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Direct Farm Ownership Loans are accessible for eligible beginning farmers to assist with the purchase or growth of a farm or ranch. Currently, to be eligible, a beginning farmer must have three years of farm business experience or participate in a difficult to navigate waiver process. Due to these onerous restrictions, a substantial portion of the funds allocated to the program go unused, despite high demand. In 2022, Iowa led the nation in the number of applicants for these loans.
The Next Generation of Farmers Act will reduce requirements for the USDA Direct Farm Ownership Loan program and open new avenues for qualification. Specifically, the bill:
- Reduces the three-year farm experience requirement to only one year.
- Ensures applicants can also qualify with a broadened type of experience, including work as a farm laborer, mentorship from an established producer, significant business experience, full payment of a youth USDA loan, and more.
The Next Generation of Farmers Act has been endorsed by the Iowa Farm Bureau and Iowa Corn Growers Association.
Text of the bill can be found here.