February 27, 2024 2:59 pm
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Young PA farmers urge Congress to help secure land access

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Danielle Smith, Producer

Young farmers in Pennsylvania and across the country want Congress to help them, especially with fair and affordable land access, as they deal with the effects of climate change.

Many young farmers and farmers of color, have difficulty finding land to purchase, the National Young Farmers Coalition has launched a campaign, called “One Million Acres for the Future.”

Adrienne Nelson, northern Appalachia organizing manager for the coalition, said they are asking Congress to make an investment in equitable land access in the next Farm Bill by passing the bipartisan Increasing Land Access, Security, and Opportunities Act.

“What we’re asking for is $100 million to be put towards a land access initiative that pretty much would allow groups of farmers or nonprofit organizations to buy farmland and distribute it to farmers,” Nelson explained.

Community-led organizations could also use the funding for increasing equitable access to capital, markets, and technical assistance to help people start and grow farm businesses. The 2018 Farm Bill expired in September and was extended for one year. In a recent survey, 59% of young farmers said finding land they can afford is “extremely challenging.”

The National Young Farmers Coalition survey also found 73% of young farmers have experienced at least one climate-related impact on their farm in the past year. Nelson argued underserved farmers and ranchers who manage small-acreage farms have a crucial role in protecting natural resources, conserving water and improving soil health. But they often face barriers to accessing federal conservation programs.

“We’re asking for conservation programs to be more accessible to smaller farms,” Nelson emphasized. “A lot of the (Natural Resource Conservation Service) programs are a lot more suited to bigger farms.”

Nelson pointed out when farmers have secure and fair access to land, they will be able to help address the climate crisis, contribute to national food security, strengthen local supply chains and grow rural economies.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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