What Beginning Farmers Need Most in the Next Farm Bill: Land
The 2018 Farm Bill should prioritize measures that support land access and tenure for beginning family farmers — the highest barriers to new farmer entry and retention.
Land access for new farmers and ranchers is an urgent policy issue. The average age of US farmers continues to rise, and 10 percent of US agricultural land, about 100 million acres, is expected to change hands in the five-year lifetime of the Farm Bill currently under consideration. Research consistently identifies secure long-term access to quality and affordable farmland as the greatest barrier to the success of beginning farmers. Policy interventions in the 2018 Farm Bill are necessary to ensure the transfer of farmland to beginning family farmers.
We recommend three evidence-based strategies, along with specific policy measures, to improve beginning farmer and rancher success: Beginning farmers need financial resources, retiring farmers need incentives to transition land to beginning farmers, and state and federal policymakers need to protect farmland as a public good.