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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Young PA farmers urge Congress to help secure land access

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Wednesday, January 10, 2024   

Young farmers in Pennsylvania and across the country want Congress to help them, especially with fair and affordable land access, as they deal with the effects of climate change.

Many young farmers and farmers of color, have difficulty finding land to purchase, the National Young Farmers Coalition has launched a campaign, called "One Million Acres for the Future."

Adrienne Nelson, northern Appalachia organizing manager for the coalition, said they are asking Congress to make an investment in equitable land access in the next Farm Bill by passing the bipartisan Increasing Land Access, Security, and Opportunities Act.

"What we're asking for is $100 million to be put towards a land access initiative that pretty much would allow groups of farmers or nonprofit organizations to buy farmland and distribute it to farmers," Nelson explained.

Community-led organizations could also use the funding for increasing equitable access to capital, markets, and technical assistance to help people start and grow farm businesses. The 2018 Farm Bill expired in September and was extended for one year. In a recent survey, 59% of young farmers said finding land they can afford is "extremely challenging."

The National Young Farmers Coalition survey also found 73% of young farmers have experienced at least one climate-related impact on their farm in the past year. Nelson argued underserved farmers and ranchers who manage small-acreage farms have a crucial role in protecting natural resources, conserving water and improving soil health. But they often face barriers to accessing federal conservation programs.

"We're asking for conservation programs to be more accessible to smaller farms," Nelson emphasized. "A lot of the (Natural Resource Conservation Service) programs are a lot more suited to bigger farms."

Nelson pointed out when farmers have secure and fair access to land, they will be able to help address the climate crisis, contribute to national food security, strengthen local supply chains and grow rural economies.


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