• State Policy

    Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Now Available

    Farmland Access is the Biggest Challenge Young Farmers Face

    The cost of buying or leasing land, combined with other significant start-up costs, puts a farming career out of reach for many. Farmers of color, in particular, have been historically disenfranchised from the land and unable to access USDA credit programs.

    But, we need these next generation farmers on the land. Secure land tenure allows farmers to invest in practices and management systems that are sustainable, provide resilience, and strengthen the viability of our food system. It also helps protect Ohio’s disappearing farmland from development.

    OEFFA Members Celebrate Statehouse Win

    Beginning January 1, 2023, early career farmers can get some extra help accessing land and equipment through the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit, which is administered by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA).

    The Beginning Farmer Tax Credit program was created through the Family Farm ReGeneration Act (House Bill 95) and signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine in April 2022. This OEFFA-backed, bipartisan bill received near unanimous support and was co-sponsored by Representatives Susan Manchester (R-84) and Mary Lightbody (D-19).

    Over the course of more than two years, more than 600 OEFFA members signed a petition, met with legislators, testified during hearings, and participated in lobby days to convey the importance of land access for Ohio’s 33,000 beginning farmers. Read more about OEFFA’s grassroots work that led to this victory, and see the photos of OEFFA’s members throughout this page.

    OEFFA members meet at Ohio Statehouse about beginning farmer tax credits

    What Beginning Farmers Need to Know

    The tax credit is available to Ohio residents who have farmed for less than 10 years and who farm or intend to farm on land in Ohio. Beginning farmers also have to demonstrate financial eligibility, submit projected earnings statements, participate in a financial management program approved by the ODA, and meet other eligibility requirements.

    In addition to receiving help accessing land or equipment from a participating asset owner, the beginning farmer receives a tax credit for the cost of the financial management program.

    Apply for the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit here.

    OEFFA members meet at Ohio Statehouse about beginning farmer tax credits

    What Asset Owners Need to Know

    Asset owners, or people or businesses that sell or rent farmland, livestock, buildings, or equipment to a qualifying beginning farmer may apply as well.

    In order for land to qualify as an asset, it must either total at least 10 acres or produce an average annual farm income of at least $2,500.

    Equipment dealers and similar businesses that sell agricultural assets for profit are not eligible for the credit. 

    Asset owners can receive a 3.99% tax credit on the sale price or three-year gross rental income.

    Apply for the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit here.

    OEFFA members meet at Ohio Statehouse about beginning farmer tax credits
    OEFFA members testify at Ohio Statehouse about beginning farmer tax credits
    OEFFA members held Ohio Statehouse lobby day about the Family Farm ReGeneration Act
  • Conservation,  State Policy

    Ohio Soil Health Bill Moving Forward

    Paul Dorrance and Jim Linne discuss pasture-based livestock farming and soil health on Jim’s farm, White Clover Farm, in Hillsboro, Ohio

    This growing season (like many before) has seen months of challenging conditions including excessive rain followed by days on end of high heat and drought. In facing these challenges, Ohio farmers know that improving soil health is a critical component to mitigating the impacts of these extreme weather events, as well as offering a myriad of other environmental benefits.

    But our farmers can’t do this alone. It’s essential that there is legislative investment in supporting and incentivizing the use of good soil management practices to create lasting environmental and economic resiliency. This commitment to soil health needs to be more than just seed deep. When we prioritize soil health, we’re supporting improved surface and ground water quality, increased crop productivity and profitability, better water holding capacity and reduced erosion, and so much more. Going deeper, this commitment means investing in the future of our farms, in a more sustainable food system, and resilient communities.

    Coordinated planning and leadership that’s informed by our farmers is needed to make good soil health practices a real priority in the state of Ohio. That’s why just this May, with support from OEFFA and the Ohio Soil Health Initiative (OSHI), Representative Juanita Brent (D-12), introduced Ohio House Bill 669 which aims to create a Healthy Soils Task Force.

    Getting to Know HB 669

    HB 669 calls for creating a Healthy Soils Task Force consisting of a diverse group of farmers, agriculture and soil health experts from Ohio academic institutions, conservation and environmental organization representatives, and appointees from the Ohio House and Senate. With administrative and fiscal support from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) the group will:

    1. Develop a healthy soils initiative for the state of Ohio
    2. Create a comprehensive action plan to implement an Ohio soil initiative with set goals, timelines and resource requirements and availabilities
    3. Examine, identify, and review:
      • Financial incentives to improve soil health;
      • The benefits of livestock to soil health;
      • Goals and timelines for improving soil health in the state via partnerships between producers and regional agencies and other invested organizations;
      • Identification of federal resources that can be leveraged in the state of Ohio to further soil health practice.
    4. Consult additional experts and agencies
    5. By the end of 2022 (at which time the Task Force will be terminated), submit the action plan, report findings and suggestions to the Governor and the State House and Senate agricultural committees

    Next Steps to Prioritizing Healthy Soils in Ohio

    This bill is the first step towards prioritizing soil health in Ohio and there is still time to contact your legislator and ask them to support the Healthy Soils Task Force!

    Sign OEFFA’s Soil Health Petition

    Become an OEFFA Member

    If you would like to be more involved, contact lauren@oeffa.org or (614) 725-0903 to learn about how you can help support healthy soils in Ohio.

  • State Policy

    Moving the Needle on Land Access

    When the National Young Farmers Coalition formed, they started their work by assessing the challenges faced by beginning farmers. It came as no surprise to many that access to farmland was, and remains, a huge hurdle for farmers just getting started. The cost of land to purchase or lease continue to climb and, combined with the significant investments in starting a new operation, often put a farming career out of reach for many.

    We know secure land tenure ensures that farmers are able to invest in place and provide culturally relevant food, medicine, and connection to their communities. That tenure also allows them to invest in practices and management systems that are sustainable, provide resilience, and strengthen the viability of our food system.

    Unfortunately, little attention has been paid to this important issue. That is, until 2018, when OEFFA started researching legislative options to support land access for beginning farmers.

    OEFFA Members Help Pass Family Farm ReGeneration Act

    We met with former Ohio House Representative John Patterson and Ohio Senator Bob Peterson, had conversations with folks in Minnesota who had recently passed a bill to provide tax incentives for beginning farmers, consulted with staff at the OEFFA Begin Farming program, reached out to the Ohio Farmers Union and the Ohio Farm Bureau, and, most importantly, heard from our members.

    OEFFA supported legislation to offer tax credits for owners of agricultural assets, including farmland, livestock, buildings, or equipment, who transfer them to a beginning farmer. House Bill 95, or the Family Farm ReGeneration Act, included credits on the following schedule:

    • 5 percent of the sale price of assets sold to a beginning farmer, up to $32,000
    • 10 percent of the gross rental income in the first three years of a cash rental agreement with a beginning farmer, up to $7,000 per year.
    • 15 percent of the cash equivalent in the first three years of a share rent agreement with a beginning farmer, up to $10,000 per year.

    This is the same structure utilized with the original Minnesota law. During our outreach and engagement on the bill, we organized a petition so that our members could demonstrate their support, garnering more than 600 signatures. Some OEFFA staff and members also provided testimony on the bill, including Rachel Tayse, Kate Hodges, Dean McIlvaine, Matt Aultman, and Jason Ward.

    Thanks to the advocacy of our members and partners, the bill received near unanimous support in the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee. During the last days prior to passage of the bill, changes were made to restrict the tax credit for owners of agricultural assets to 3.99 percent for all classes of transfer-sale, lease, or cost share rental agreement.

    Farming on land you don’t own can limit investment in long-term practices that may take years to see positive results, which also benefits communities through cleaner water and better ecosystem functions. It makes sense that we would want to increase the incentive for land leasing so these long-term practices have a better chance of being adopted, but also for the relationship building that may be necessary to secure a more permanent transfer into the future.

    Tax Credit for Beginning Farmers

    While the focus on the tax credits in this bill is the landowner, that is not solely the case. The bill also provides a modest tax credit for beginning farmers that participate in a business management program certified by the Department of Agriculture and/or Ohio land grant colleges, such as the Ohio State University and Central State University.

    OEFFA is currently working to ensure that our Begin Farming program is on that list. Its Heartland Farm Beginnings, a year-long farmer-led training and support program, is designed to help early career farmers achieve their goal of creating a sustainable farm business. Through intensive workshops, beginning farmers develop a whole farm business plan through goal setting, financial management, and assessment of resources, skills, and markets. Participants are also paired with a farmer-mentor for one-on-one support. 

    The USDA has historically disenfranchised black and indigenous farmers, and many of these “underserved” producers still cannot adequately access USDA programs, including credit options for purchasing land. That is one of the reasons OEFFA supported an increased tax incentive for agricultural asset owners that work to transition land and other resources to farmers of color.

    So, with the passage of the Family Farm ReGeneration Act, we do two things:

    1. We celebrate our power to win when we work together; and
    2. We work to improve the law in the future.

    Join us today and continue to build our power to make positive change for a more sustainable food and farm system. If you are already part of the OEFFA family, reach out to our policy staff to share your story and ideas.

  • Conservation,  State Policy

    Contact Your Representative Today for Soil Health Into the Future!

    OEFFA members know that healthy soil is foundational to sustainable agriculture. While healthy soil is the basis for healthy crops, animals and humans, decision makers at the statehouse overwhelmingly are not talking about this important issue.

    That’s why OEFFA, the Ohio Soil Health Initiative and allies are urging decision makers to pass legislation that creates a Soil Health Task Force that includes public hearings and the creation of a proposed comprehensive soil health action plan within 1-year of establishing the task force.

    Use the form below to send an email to your state Representative and ask them to join Representative Juanita Brent (D-12) and sponsor the bill to create a Soil Health Task Force in Ohio.


    • Don’t include an introduction or sign off, those will automatically be included;
    • Share why soil health is important;
    • Keep it short and to the point; and
    • Ask for a response and let us know what they say!

    Talking points:

    • The creation of a soil health task force, that includes public hearings, would create the appropriate planning that is needed to accelerate and coordinate the adoption of soil health practices.
    • Healthy soils are a limited natural resource and fundamental for healthy and sustainable food production and for a resilient agriculture able to respond to a changing climate.
    • Ohio is a leading agriculture state with productive soils and abundant water supplies, and a commitment to healthy and productive soils is critical to the future of agriculture.
    • A comprehensive soil health action plan needs to be informed by farmers across the state. Public hearings are essential to creating a comprehensive plan for soil health that meets the needs of Ohio farmers.
    • There are real and pressing opportunities for Ohio farmers to capitalize on the economic and production benefits of improved soil health and water quality. We can’t ignore this critical opportunity. A Soil Health Task Force charged with creating a comprehensive soil health action plan within one year, needs to be put in place now.
  • Conservation,  State Policy

    OEFFA Soil Health Task Force Petition

    Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) members know that healthy soil is foundational to sustainable agriculture. While healthy soil is the basis for healthy crops, animals and humans, decision makers at the statehouse overwhelmingly are not talking about this important issue.

    We believe in an Ohio where farmers who are curious about experimenting with soil health are supported and farmers who are implementing soil health practices are recognized. That’s why OEFFA, the Ohio Soil Health Initiative and allies are urging decision makers to pass legislation that creates a Soil Health Task Force as a first step towards developing farmer informed solutions that support health soil principles and practices. This task force would allow Ohio farmers to educate decision makers about the challenges, opportunities and actions they want to see addressed at the statehouse.

    Add your name in support below!

    We the undersigned support the creation of a healthy soils task force by the Ohio Legislature that would:

    • Consider the many benefits of soil health including but not limited to those identified by the Ohio Soil Health Initiative;
    • Prioritize the experience and knowledge of farmers who are already implementing soil health practices in Ohio and farmers who want to improve soil health on their farms, specifically by holding public hearings; and
    • Submit a comprehensive action plan, based on the knowledge of Ohio farmers amongst others, to the Governor, the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee, and the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee within one year of the creation of the task force.

  • State Policy

    Beginning Farmer Bill on the Move

    The end of first year of Ohio’s 134th General Assembly brought the passage of Ohio House Bill 95 (HB 95).

    The Family Farm ReGeneration Act passed with almost unanimous support (Republican House Member Thomas Brinkman, Jr. was the only dissenting vote).

    OEFFA has been championing legislation to alleviate the overwhelming challenges beginning farmers face in finding affordable farmland for several years.

    Ohio can be proud to rank 6th in the nation in the number of beginning farmers.

    If we are to enjoy the food security and economic development benefits of agriculture, we must ensure next generation farmers have a secure land base.

    This bill establishes a tax credit for farmland owners and which grants an income and franchise tax credit to any person who sells or rents agricultural assets to a beginning farmer.

    How the Legislation Promotes Land and Resource Connections

    The credit equals:

    • 5 percent of the sale price of the assets sold to a beginning farmer, up to $32,000
    • 10 percent of the gross rental income in the first three years of a cash rental agreement with a beginning farmer, up to $7,000 per year
    • 15 percent of the cash equivalent in the first three years of a share rent agreement with a beginning farmer, up to $10,000 per year

    The same type of provisions were included in legislation that piloted this program in Minnesota. During the first year of implementing the law, they received more than 800 applications from landowners and beginning farmers. This holds promise for assisting both landowners and land seekers in the state. Ohio Representatives Susan Manchester (R-84) and Mary Lightbody (D-19) introduced HB 95 to the House Ways and Means Committee on September 28th.

    How You Can Help

    The Senate Ways and Means Committee will be hearing proponent testimony starting this week. If you would like to add your voice there are opportunities to call or present written or in-person testimony, call Amalie Lipstreu at (614) 947-1607 or email here. We need this legislation to pass the Senate and be signed into law by Governor DeWine before the end of this legislative session in the late spring of 2022. Help us to ensure a strong future for Ohio farmers today!

  • State Policy

    Ohio House Passes HB 95 to Help Farmers Overcome Land Access Challenges

    On June 28, by a vote of 96 to 1, the Ohio House passed the Family Farm ReGeneration Act, which could clear a major hurdle for the next generation of Ohio farmers and create greater resilience in our local food system!

    Thank you to everyone who has helped us get this far, by signing our petition, attending a hearing, or contacting a legislator. Your action really does make a difference!

    Access to—and secure tenure on—affordable, high quality farmland is the number one challenge young farmers face. At the same time, millions of acres of farmland is being lost to development or changing hands as older farmers retire.

    House Bill 95—sponsored by Representatives Manchester (R-84) and Lightbody (D-19)—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.

    The past year has illustrated, in stark terms, the vulnerability of our food system, and the need to take steps to ensure that those interested in providing what is a paramount service to society—contributing to our food supply—are successful.

    You can help us get this important bill across the finish line and support beginning farmers and land access. Join us now in signing this petition and contacting your State Senator so we can make sure the Senate introduces and passes a companion bill for the Governor to sign.

  • Conservation,  State Policy

    Family Farm ReGeneration Act Heads to House Floor

    The Ohio House Agriculture Committee has unanimously passed House Bill 95, the Family Farm ReGeneration Act, putting us one step closer to achieving much-needed support for beginning farmer land access and providing greater resilience to Ohio’s food system!

    Sponsored by Representatives Susan Manchester (R-84) and Mary Lightbody (D-19), the bill now heads to the full House for a floor vote.

    The Family Farm ReGeneration Act provides an important bridge between landowners and land seekers, authorizing 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.

    Because farmland is so hard to find, first generation beginning farmer and OEFFA member Jason Ward farms more than 30 parcels of land spread across four counties and 20 miles. “Increasing pressure from large corporations and investors on landowners to sell their farmland for development purposes has been detrimental to small family farmers like me. The availability of farmland continues to decline at an alarming rate, yet there is currently no incentive for landowners to take a chance on beginning farmers, such as myself,” Jason said.

    Ohio lost almost 1 million acres of farmland since 1997 and nationally, 100 million acres of land will change hands in the next few years, putting even more land at risk for development.

    The good news is that there are next generation farmers excited about entering a career in agriculture, but access to land is the biggest barrier they face. Now is the time to take action to help get new farmers on the land, so that we have a future for Ohio’s food and agriculture industry.

    If you support beginning farmers and farmland access, help us get this important bill across the finish line! Sign this petition now and show Ohio’s lawmakers how overwhelming the support is for beginning farmers!

  • State Policy

    Prosperous Soil Health Solutions

    An Old Topic Getting New Attention

    While good soil health practices date back to indigenous cultures, the green revolution shifted the focus away from working within natural systems toward the use of high yielding seed varieties, irrigation, mechanization, fertilizers, and pesticides. We are seeing the unintended consequences of this approach and its limitations, leading many to advocate for these old ways, while bringing in new scientific insight and understanding.

    Past land use practices and intensive forms of agriculture that have not focused on good soil management, have led to a tremendous loss of soil organic matter worldwide. These vulnerable soils have less resilience to drought and flooding, and during heavy rainfall events are more prone to soil erosion and runoff, which contribute to water pollution.

    But we are now seeing a tremendous awakening in knowledge and practice. Many conservation minded farmers are instituting practices that build organic matter recognizing the biological, physical, and chemical components of the soil. These practices are also recognized by city planners and environmentalists for the many positive ecosystem benefits healthy soils provide. Whether it is better water management or the sequestration of carbon in well-managed soils, there is renewed focus on how we can create policies and programs to support farmers in instituting suites of good soil health practices.

    Soil Health Makes for Financial Health

    The good news is that these practices can also contribute to a profitable bottom line for producers as well. The American Farmland Trust conducted case studies on farmers using these practices across the country, which show how soil health practices increase farm viability. The two-page case studies focus on corn-soybean production in Illinois and Ohio, almond production in California and a diversified rotation in New York. The featured farmers implemented soil health practices like no-till or strip-till, nutrient management, cover crops, compost, and mulching. These findings show that producers can increase their yield, decrease their risk and input costs, and improve their profits, all while conserving resources on their farms, in their watersheds, and beyond.

    OEFFA Conference Special Event on Soil Health and Profitability

    We are fortunate to be bringing three of these AFT case study farmers to Ohio (virtually) so that farmers can hear about the practices they are using and how it is affecting their operations. This free half day session “Make More Money by Investing in Soil Health” is part of OEFFA’s 42nd annual Conference and will be held on Wednesday, February 10 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Eastern.

    To help Ohio farmers achieve these benefits on their own farms, nationally recognized Ohio no-till farmer David Brandt, cover crop specialist and seed dealer Ann Brandt, and Muskingum County Soil and Water Conservation District Agricultural Resource Specialist Van Slack will share agronomist recommendations on best practices and compare those to their current practices, yields, and profitability per acre using an input worksheet.

    You can register for this workshop through February 8 by visiting the OEFFA Conference registration page and selecting the Soil Health and Profitability seminar. Conference registration is not required to attend; however if you plan on only attending the seminar, we ask that you make a small donation to assist us with administrative costs.

    Ohio Soil Health Initiative

    This is one part of an ongoing process to provide resources, spark discussion, and solicit feedback from farmers. OEFFA has been working with soil scientists, other organizations, farmers, and agencies to talk about how Ohio can do more to support the adoption of these practices so that we can all reap the benefits. This effort, the Ohio Soil Health Initiative (OSHI), will be working to advance legislation in the Ohio General Assembly. If you care about conservation, are working to build soil health, and have feedback for this effort, please contact us today to learn more and inform our work.

  • General,  State Policy

    Find Our Where Your Local Candidates Stand on Food and Farm Issues

    The election season is well underway. 

    As you ponder who will get your vote in the upcoming election, OEFFA, in partnership with the Ohio Farmers Market Network, Produce Perks Midwest, and the Ohio Food Policy Network, compiled an Ohio Candidate Questionnaire—a list of seven questions you can use to find out where each candidate stands on important food and farm issues related to climate, food access, and local food systems. 

    There is an urgent need to help candidates understand the challenges Ohioans face every day in accessing healthy food, as well as those faced by farmers working to provide that food.

    Hold your candidates accountable this season and ask them to champion your priorities!

    How to Contact Your Candidates

    Here are some ways you can contact your local candidates to learn about their positions:

    • Attend an in-person or online debate or town hall
    • Call or email them
    • Post to their social media page or tag them on social media

    More Candidate Resources

    In July 2020, OEFFA and our partners released “Opportunity in a Time of Crisis: Recommendations for Building a More Resilient Ohio Food System.” This report is another resource to reference as you interact with candidates.

    Finding Your Candidates

    Finding your candidates’ schedules can be difficult! Check out your candidates’ websites and Facebook pages for their latest news or call their office if necessary. Other helpful resources are: County Boards of Elections; County Democratic Party Events page; and County Republican Party Events page.

    Voting in Ohio

    Have a question about voting in Ohio? Visit the Ohio Secretary of State website today.

    Thank you for participating in the democratic process with us! Please contact us to let us know what you hear!