With West in Drought, House Farm Bill Cuts Conservation, Funds Land Access

 

Wedged in between White House scandals and Beychella, the House Agriculture Committee released their draft of the 2018 Farm Bill.

As NYFC outlined in our initial analysis of the bill, there is some good news for young farmers. Programs that support the next generation, like the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), are reauthorized, and funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), a critical tool for protecting farmland for future generations, is restored to $500 million.

As young farmers across the West attempt to build their on-farm resilience to climate change and drought ahead of another dry season, though, they’ll need more support than this bill would provide. Before the House Ag Committee amends the bill and votes on Wednesday, take a look at NYFC’s breakdown of how this bill will impact Western farmers and ranchers. And make sure your lawmakers know that you want a farm bill that works for the West by joining NYFC’s Team Farm Bill. Text “FARM” To 52886 or sign up here.

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Ask your Representative to Support the Young Farmer Agenda

The Young Farmer Agenda is NYFC’s policy platform for the next farm bill. By enacting the Young Farmer Agenda, Congress can inspire and support an entire generation of young producers, protect the resources they steward, strengthen the communities they feed, and revitalize the rural economies they underpin.

Call your Member of Congress today to ask them to support the Young Farmer Agenda!

NYFC has worked with Congressional champions to introduce two beginning farmer bills in the House that support the Young Farmer Agenda: the Young and Beginning Farmers Act (H.R. 4201) and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (H.R. 4316). Both of these bills address top challenges for young farmers by expanding access to affordable farmland, improving outreach and delivery of federal programs to new farmers, and increasing federal investments in training, business development, and local markets.

TAKE ACTION: Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and press 2 for the House of Representatives. When you’re connected, introduce yourself and ask that your representative sponsor H.R. 4201 and H.R. 4316. Tell them why you care!

Email Andrew or Sophie with any questions. 

Thanks for taking action!

 

Tell the Senate to Address Farmer Student Loan Debt

We have a huge opportunity to advance our student loan campaign.

 

The Senate is rewriting the Higher Education Act, which includes federal student loan policy and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. They’re soliciting input from key stakeholders—we need to speak up for young farmers!

The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee has set up a special email address to receive public comments about what their new Higher Education Act should include. Please take a few minutes to tell them that it should include student loan forgiveness for farmers, and send your comments to highereducation2018@help.senate.gov. Please Cc or Bcc action@youngfarmers.org so we can track our impact.

The deadline for comments is Friday, February 23rd. We have some suggested email language below, but any message that calls attention to the burden of student loan debt for farmers will go a long way with Senators on the Committee.

Here’s what to say: 

[Note: these emails are always most effective when they’re personalized.]

Dear Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input into the Committee’s work to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

[Insert personal info. For example: are you a farmer, former farmer, or aspiring farmer? Where? What’s the name of your farm and what do you grow? Do you have student loan debt? How has that impacted your career?]

According to a 2017 national survey of young farmers in the U.S. conducted by the National Young Farmers Coalition, student loan debt is the #2 challenge young farmers face—second only to land access.

Bringing young people back to the farm or ranch is a national priority. The average age of the American farmer is increasing, and farmers over the age of 65 outnumber farmers under the age of 35 by a margin of six to one. Young people are ready to farm, but student loan debt is keeping them from starting.

A bipartisan bill in the House, the Young Farmer Success Act (H.R. 1060) would address this urgent issue by adding farmers to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. We strongly urge the Committee to include this language when it reauthorizes the Higher Education Act. Providing loan forgiveness for farmers after ten years of income-based payments would help new farmers reinvest in growing their businesses and incentivize more young people to enter careers in agriculture at the exact time our country and our rural communities need them.

Sincerely,
Your Name

Thank you for taking action! 

 

Spread the Word: New Report on Young Farmers

 

This is big news, and we need your help sharing it far and wide!

In early 2017, NYFC conducted the second-ever National Young Farmer Survey, collecting data from thousands of young farmers across the U.S. Now we’ve released the report on our findings and present a policy roadmap to help young farmers succeed!

Please read the report, “Building a Future with Farmers II: Results and Recommendations from the National Young Farmer Survey.” Then help us spread the word and keep up the momentum heading into the farm bill!

 

Click to read the report.

 

Run for your FSA County Committee

Through policy advocacy and working with USDA staff at the national level, NYFC has been fighting to make sure that Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans and programs truly serve the needs of all young farmers. There’s also a way for you to get directly involved with the day-to-day operations of FSA and to shape FSA programs at the local level.

This month is the nomination period for FSA County Committees. (more…)

Young Farmers Rely on Affordable Health Care

With the Senate’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act looming, young farmers from across the country are writing to tell us about what’s at stake on their farms. Here are their stories. (more…)

Young Farmer Success Act Reintroduced in Congress

A bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives took action to address our urgent national need for more young farmers by reintroducing the Young Farmer Success Act (H.R. 1060).  

The National Young Farmers Coalition first worked with members of Congress in 2015 to tackle one of the greatest barriers to young farmer success: student loan debt. The Young Farmer Success Act was introduced in October 2015 and today, that bill was reintroduced with key bipartisan support.

As an entire generation of farmers nears retirement, and with nearly two-thirds of our nation’s working farmland expected to change hands in the next two decades, our entire agricultural economy and food supply are at stake. Providing a viable path for young entrepreneurs to apply their energy and grit toward feeding their communities must become a national priority. And with a new Congress and a new President, now is the time to act.

“America needs a new generation of farmers, now more than ever,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), one of the bill’s lead sponsors. “The number of new farmers entering the field of agriculture has dropped by 20 percent, while the average farmer age has risen above 58-years-old. We must invest in the next generation of farmers, and do it now.” (more…)

Tell Congress that farming is public service!

Bringing young people back to the farm or ranch is a national priority. The average age of the American farmer is increasing, and farmers over the age of 65 outnumber farmers under the age of 35 by a margin of 6-to-1. Young people are ready to farm, but student loan debt is keeping them from starting. Send your Representative an email today, and tell him/her to support the Young Farmer Success Act of 2015.