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Helping the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers Get Started

October 24, 2011

WASHINGTON - Congress is considering legislation that looks to help open the door for the next generation of farmers and ranchers. Adam Warthesen with the Land Stewardship Project calls it an investment that will pay dividends in the long run, as those working the prairies, fields and farms continue to grow older.

"What is our country doing to invest in that next generation? Well, this is part of it. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act is good, smart, cost-effective investments that we can make to get new farmers started, but also to strengthen our rural communities."

Warthesen says it includes support for training programs, lending and savings provisions, and conservation incentives.

"As an organization, the Land Stewardship Project, we work with beginning farmers day in, day out, and it's this bill, with our allies, that we've put together. It isn't like we made it up in some black box, but it's what we're hearing from beginning farmers, what they need to help them sort of overcome some of the barriers they're facing."

Warthesen says removing barriers to starting out in farming is vital as the opportunities in agriculture continue to grow.

"And while agriculture is an industry that's been doing pretty well economically in the last couple of years, what it hasn't been doing a great job at is nurturing that next generation of farmers."

The act was introduced in the U.S. House last week and is expected to be introduced in the Senate sometime this week.

Minnesota Congressman Tim Walz is co-sponsor of the bill in the U.S. House. He calls it a smart, effective way to support the next generation of family farmers and our local communities.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN