On June 28, by a vote of 96 to 1, the Ohio House passed House Bill 95, which could clear a major hurdle for the next generation of Ohio farmers and provide greater resilience to Ohio’s food system.
HB 95, the Family Farm ReGeneration Act, will authorize tax credits for those who sell or rent farmland, livestock, buildings, or equipment to beginning farmers. It also provides a credit for beginning farmers who attend a financial management program.
“Young farmers in Ohio are taking on the risks inherent in farming and working hard to build successful farm businesses. They are also facing significant obstacles that require creative policy solutions. Access to—and secure tenure on—affordable, high quality farmland is the number one challenge young farmers are facing,” said Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) Policy Director Amalie Lipstreu.
“At the same time, millions of acres of farmland are changing hands as older farmers consider retirement and sale of their land. House Bill 95 provides an important bridge between landowners and those seeking land,” Lipstreu continued.
Representative Susan Manchester (R-84) has been a champion for beginning farmers since she joined the legislature in the 133rd session.
“By decreasing their tax burden, House Bill 95 incentivizes retiring farmers to recruit beginning farmers to take over their operations. This program also sets beginning farmers up for success by giving them an opportunity to learn more about the financial management of a farm operation,” said Manchester. “I’m proud to represent a strong agricultural community and help the next generation of farmers get started in a very capital intensive industry.”
Manchester and Representative Mary Lightbody (D-19) sponsored the legislation in the House. As noted in Rep. Lightbody’ s testimony on the bill, sustainable farmers represent the future of agriculture, but they often face difficulties having to patch together a farm from many different parcels of land across multiple counties.
“I’ve seen this scenario played out firsthand in my own district, where retiring farmers without family successors are looking for someone to take over their operation, but face tough financial barriers when selling their land or assets. This program would incentivize retiring farmers to look to beginning farmers to take over their operations by decreasing their tax burden. It would also set beginning farmers up for success by giving them an opportunity to learn more about the financial management of a farm operation,” Lightbody said in her testimony.
“The past year illustrated, in stark terms, the vulnerability of our food system. We must take the steps necessary to ensure that those interested in providing what is a paramount service to society—contributing to our food supply—are successful,” said Lipstreu. “OEFFA congratulates the House of Representatives for the foresight in passing this important bill. We call upon the Senate to act by introducing and passing a companion bill in the coming weeks so that this bill is ready for the Governor’s signature before the summer recess.”