May 2, 2012
Top 10 Beginning Farmer/Rancher
Issues for the 2012 Farm Bill
During the Farm Bill Listening Session in Great Falls on April 2, 2012, Senator Max Baucus asked MFU to present a list of recommendations that would enhance beginning farmer and rancher programs within the Farm Bill.
Montana Farmers Union and its beginning producers took that request seriously, and present the following points, which were worked out in a special brainstorming meeting of MFU young producers who drew on their personal experience and needs.
- Establish a mentoring program where an experienced older farmer/rancher is matched with a beginning farmer and agree to work with them for a period of not less than 3 years. Consider a possible compensation method for the mentor to ease passing control of the operation.
- Establish a CRP Transition program for transfer of land to beginning farmers and ranchers. CRP should not have to be an expiring contract to be eligible if the land is to be sold, and include the possibility of sale to relatives. Consider decreasing the acreage in CRP or the payment per acre for CRP in order to get more production land available to beginning F/R at more reasonable prices.
- Allow CRP land to come out without penalty if it is to be sold to a beginning farmer/rancher.
- Establish a debt forgiveness or loan forgiveness program for retiring farmers/ranchers if retirees pass land along to a beginning farmer/rancher.
- Work to establish tax incentives for retiring farmers/ranchers for transfer of land to beginning farmers.
- Put more dollars into CSP programs allowing extension service the ability to better administer this program.
- EQIP is severely underfunded. EQIP allows beginning farmers/ranchers the financial ability to improve the efficiency and environmental sustainability of the land, and it is important to maintain funding for Extension and ATTRA as these are the only unbiased research available and are valuable resources for beginning farmers/ranchers.
- Renewable energy programs are important as they provide another possible funding stream for beginning farmers/ranchers.
- Support Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, Value Added Producer Grant Program, & the Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program.
- Consider a mechanism whereby micro loans can be processed through local banks rather than USDA, which is a much more cumbersome, time-consuming process.