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i_yfarmers_2017a_2017-08-10t09:01:25z2 Hearing Summary

Date: 08/10/2017

Location: SCR 357

Final

Overview of the National Young Farmer Survey Results



YOUNG AND BEGINNING FARMERS


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09:19 AM -- Overview of the National Young Farmer Survey Results



Kate Greenberg, Western Program Director, National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC), provided a brief summary of the National Young Farmer Survey. Ms. Greenberg discussed that the NYFC would be providing legislative recommendations to the committee during the presentation.



09:20 AM



Alexander Funk, Western Policy Program Manager, NYFC, provided a handout to the committee (Attachment B). Mr. Funk explained that the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines "beginning" farmers as an individual who has 10 years or less of experience. He highlighted that the definition does not include an age determinate. Mr. Funk said that there is no formal definition for "young" farmers, but typically is used to categorize farmers and ranchers who are under 35 years of age. Mr. Funk stated that nationally from 2007 and 2012 the average age of farmers has risen from 51 years of age to 58 years of age. He said that in Colorado, the average age of farmers is 59 years old. He discussed the issue of farmland transferring ownership in coming years due to many producers reaching retirement age. Mr. Funk discussed the declining number of young and beginning farmers entering the agriculture industry and how NYFC seeks to improve the participation of young and beginning farmers in the industry.



170810 AttachB.pdf170810 AttachB.pdf



09:27 AM



Ms. Greenberg discussed the background of NYFC, which was formed in 2010, and explained that NYFC focuses on three areas: policy reform, network building, and business services. She said that there are four NYFC chapters of in Colorado. She explained that the chapters of NYFC recommend policies through working with farmers and ranchers, as well as chapter leaders. Ms. Greenberg discussed the a federal micro-loan program that the NYFC helped establish to provide $50,000 loans to young farmers with low interest rates.



09:32 AM



Mr. Funk provided an overview of the NYFC 2017 National Survey, which was completed with the assistance of George Washington University. He stated that the NYFC partnered with 94 other organizations to increase participation in the survey outside of the existing network of NYFC. Mr. Funk said that the goal of the survey was to provide a snapshot of young farmers and provide a demographic background. He referenced handouts provided to the committee (Attachments C and D) and discussed the demographic results of the survey. He explained that first generation farmers typically operate smaller acreages than established farmers. Mr. Funk stated that the survey showed that young farmers diversify their crops more than established farmers. In response to a question, Ms. Greenberg discussed the issue of farmer readiness and the need for business training. Mr. Funk explained that land access is the biggest obstacle for young and beginning farmers, and in western states, water access and availability is another significant obstacle for farmers. He further discussed issues related to land access, including affordability and ability to find appropriate land for the crop farmers wish to produce.



170810 AttachC.pdf170810 AttachC.pdf170810 AttachD.pdf170810 AttachD.pdf



09:44 AM



Mr. Funk discussed the path to land access for young and beginning farmers and explained that it is critical for young and beginning farmers to gain farming or ranching experience in order to gain access to land. Mr. Funk also discussed succession plans of established farmers and the need for established farmers to create succession plans and include young and beginning farmers in those plans. He also discussed the difficulty for young and beginning farmers to access capital in order to begin farming.



09:47 AM



Mr. Funk discussed policy recommendations from NYFC, which include: establishing a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Center at Colorado State University (CSU) to coordinate education and information services statewide for new farmers and ranchers and provide succession planning technical assistance; expanding the Innovative Industries Internship Grant Program to include agricultural industry internships; and establishing a beginning farmer and rancher student loan repayment program to encourage more students to enter agricultural professions and encourage rural development. Mr. Funk also recommended that the committee expand the beginning farmer and rancher tax credit to include the sale of land and agricultural assets and the creation of a state capital gains tax deferral or exclusion for farmland and agricultural assets sold to new and next generation farmers and ranchers.



09:52 AM



Mr. Funk and Ms. Greenberg responded to questions from the committee regarding the survey data, the Innovative Internship Grant Program, and additional obstacles to young and beginning farmers.