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Latest from Young Farmers

Farmers Need Action on Climate and Land in the Next Farm Bill

By Lotanna Obodozie

2023 was one of the hottest years on record. As spring approaches across the U.S., scientists say 2024 may be even hotter! Young farmers are leaders on the frontlines of this climate crisis and are driving attention to the need for climate action globally as well as in the U.S. Unpredictable weather events, persistent droughts, and more natural disasters disrupt farming and ranching across the country and the rest of the world. However, young farmers are committed to facing and addressing these challenges on their farms and ranches. 

USDA programs that are designed to help farmers grapple with conservation and climate challenges exist, but farmers must have secure land access in order to utilize these programs and lead climate solutions. These programs need to be accessible and relevant to farmers’ needs. 

Land access is the top challenge for young farmers today— according to our 2022 National Young Farmer Survey, 59% of young farmers struggle with finding affordable land to buy, with this number being even higher for BIPOC farmers. Our survey also found that 71% of young farmers were not familiar with federal programs, and for those who were aware, nearly two-thirds did not have time to apply or found the applications too burdensome.

Every five years, the farm bill directs billions of dollars to food and agriculture programs. These funds are not meeting the needs of young farmers, who want to address the climate crisis or purchase their own land. Congress is currently writing the next farm bill in D.C. This is a major opportunity to directly benefit the next generation of working farmers. 

The National Young Farmers Coalition has been working closely with Congress to support three key pieces of legislation that would address the interconnected challenges of climate and land. These potential policies are our best opportunity for addressing the issues of climate change and land access before it’s too late. We strongly urge Congress to pass a farm bill that invests in climate and land access solutions for the next generation of farmers, building on the important investments made in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Funding for Equitable Land Access

Land access is a major barrier that farmers and ranchers face. A farmer’s ability to access land affects their access to markets and capital, as well as their ability to run a successful farm or ranch. Secure land tenure, such as ownership or a long-term lease, is essential to providing farmers with the certainty they need to invest in and grow their operations, as well as address the climate crisis head-on. 

Strong pathways to land access for new farmers keeps land within agricultural communities while also strengthening and retaining land and knowledge within these groups. Farming communities are already responding to the issue of land insecurity through community-led land access efforts, but policy change is necessary for long-term and lasting change. 

The Increasing Land Access, Security, and Opportunities Act (LASO) (H.R.3955, S.2340) would provide funding for equitable land access, transition, and retention through projects led by community-based organizations. These projects would help producers start and grow resilient farm businesses.

Tell Congress to support land access for young and BIPOC farmers!

Conservation Funding for Small Farmers and Farmers of Color

Most farmers and ranchers, especially those newer to farming, are operating on paper-thin margins. Programs like USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) can help farmers implement a wide variety of practices on their farms to help them adapt to and mitigate climate change. Young farmers face many issues when trying to access these valuable EQIP dollars, however. 

Studies have found that large farms are more likely to receive EQIP funding than smaller farms, despite the program being designed to be “size-neutral.” Because of land access challenges, beginning, young, women, and BIPOC farmers are all likely to operate small farms. Small farms have a vital role to play in the conservation and protection of our natural resources. 

The Small Farm Conservation Act (S.2180, H.R.5354) would create a new subprogram within EQIP to help meet the needs of young and BIPOC producers through a dedicated funding stream, a simplified application process, and increased access to technical assistance.

Tell Congress to help young farmers protect water and build climate resilience!

Investing in Farmer-Led Climate Change and Conservation Education

Conservation practices, like cover cropping, don’t just benefit farmers — they also benefit their communities and broader ecosystems. However, farmers face many barriers when it comes to using these conservation practices. These include lack of access to the right equipment and materials and insecure land tenure, to name a few! Sometimes these barriers are best addressed by support from more experienced farmers. 

In fact, a recent study from the American Farmland Trust found that over half of farmers receive technical assistance and other education directly from farmers they know, as opposed to only 20% from USDA. Farmers often learn best from other farmers, at field days, across fence lines, and at social gatherings. Building on farmer-led education is a necessary and cost-effective way to increase long-term conservation practice adoption. 

The Farmer-to-Farmer Education Act (S.2614) would support existing and new farmer-to-farmer networks and increase technical assistance for farmers.

Tell Congress to farmer-to-farmer conservation education in the next farm bill!


Land, agriculture, and the climate crisis are closely intertwined, and the inclusion of these bills in the next farm bill is a major opportunity to address these issues. Young Farmers is not the only agriculture group calling for a focus on land and climate in the next farm bill—the
American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and hundreds of organizations that have signed on to our letters of support are doing the same. Together, these organizations represent millions of farmers and ranchers across the country. If Congress does not take swift action today, farming, an already challenging path, will get much harder and more uncertain. 

Join our action network today to tell Congress that our nation’s young farmers need their support in the next farm bill!
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