Editorial: New state law to strengthen future of ag

Published 11:02 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Agriculture is and always has been a foundation of Minnesota’s economy.

Thanks to a new law that is the first of its kind in the country, there’s a better chance agriculture will be a key part of the state’s future.

The law helps younger farmers get access to farmland. It provides tax credits to landowners who sell or rent land or farm equipment to them. Iowa and Nebraska offer similar tax credit programs for land rental, but Minnesota will be the first state to also allow the credits on land sales, according to the Star Tribune.

Email newsletter signup

Anyone who has lived in a rural area is well aware of how tough it is to start out in farming but knows how key it is that young farmers keep entering the field, so to speak. In south-central Minnesota census numbers reveal the average age of farmers is mid-50s, with Le Sueur County farmers’ average age at 57.3. Only 4 percent of operators are less than 35 years old.

If young farmers aren’t filling the boots of older farmers, the economy of this region as well as the state as a whole is threatened. Without a lot of equity to get started, newcomers to farming find bank loans are tricky to obtain. Landowners understandably don’t want to lose money when they rent or sell. The new law should help give landowners an incentive to rent land to beginners. Lots of land is going to change hands as more farmers retire or die. (Landowners don’t qualify for tax credits if they sell or rent to family members.)

The state ag department already has other beginning farmer assistance available, such as a web tool to link farmers to farmland, a directory of data and programs available, and a Farm Business Management Scholarship Program. All of those measures are important to offer the support young farmers need, along with new methods such as this fresh law that continue to look at what’s necessary to maintain a healthy farm economy.

Young farmers are the future of agriculture in this state. Making sure they don’t run into insurmountable obstacles now and down the road are important to keeping agriculture strong.

— Mankato Free Press, July 9

About Editorial Roundup

Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

email author More by Editorial