Ohio bill helping new farmers get land has first senate committee hearing
HB 95, The Ohio Family Farm Regeneration Act, had its first hearing in the Senate Ways and Means committee on Tuesday.
The bill will create an income tax credit for farmers who sell or rent land, equipment or livestock to new farmers who are just starting out. Tax credits would also go to beginning farmers who attend a financial management program.
State Rep. Mary Lightbody is a sponsor of the bipartisan bill. She said the tax credits will help ease some of the challenges young farmers face when looking to buy land or farming equipment.
“The average U.S. farmer is 58 years old, which illustrates a trend of aging in the industry,” Lighbody said. “Creating a pathway to assistance for those beginning farmers gives them a strong start in an industry that requires significant financial resources.”
Rep. Susan Manchester also sponsors the bill, and said the potential benefits, if passed, would help ease some of the burdens of retiring farmers without family to pass down their land to.
“[Retiring farmers] face tough financial barriers when selling their land or assets,” Manchester said. “This program would incentivize retiring farmers to look to beginning farmers to take over their operations by decreasing their tax burden.”
Young farmers looking to apply for a tax credit would first have to be certified as a beginner farmer through a state university designated as a land grant institution. In Ohio, the only universities with land grant designation are Ohio State University and Central State University.
Beginning farmers would also have to meet specific requirements such as having knowledge about farming and having been in the industry for less than 10 years.
House Bill 95 passed the Ohio House by a 96 vote margin this past summer but still has to go through the Senate before being sent to the governor for his signature.
Food reporter Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.