OEFFA has been working with members of the Ohio House and Senate to pass legislation that would incentivize land transfer between current landowners and beginning farmers.
After months of work, the House Bill 183, the Family Farm ReGeneration Act, passed out of the Ohio House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee unanimously on November 19.
OEFFA is thankful to the bill’s co-sponsors Rep. Susan Manchester and Rep. John Patterson.
In October, OEFFA’s Begin Farming Program Coordinator, Rachel Tayse, presented testimony to the committee on the need for this bill based on her experience working with aspiring and early career farmers.
According to Rachel’s testimony, “… OEFFA’s elder farmer generation call on me nearly daily for help finding young people to carry on their agricultural legacy. ”
Despite work to develop a new HeartlandFarmLink.org website, an online matching services for farm land seekers and existing farm owners, significant barriers to farm transfer remain. Surveys conducted both OEFFA and the National Young Farmers Coalition show access to land is the top challenge beginning farmers face.
OEFFA member and first generation beginning organic farmer Jason Ward also presented powerful testimony about the land access challenges he faces farming more than 36 parcels, averaging a size of five acres each, in four different counties, spread across 20 miles.
According to Jason, “Increasing pressure from large corporations and investors on landowners to sell their farmland for development purposes, has been detrimental to the small family farm on which I work to make a living. 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.”
The legislation now goes to the full House for a vote. Senate Bill 159, introduced by Senator Peterson (R-17), has been assigned to the Senate Ways and Means Committee and awaits its first hearing.
You can help move this bill forward by signing our petition in support of the Family Farm ReGeneration Act today. Our goal is 500 signatures and we are currently at 447. Add your name so that we can send a strong message to the Ohio Legislature that we support beginning farmers!