Inhofe, Udall Introduce Bills to Strengthen Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers

Bills will reduce financial barriers that prevent new farmers and ranchers from committing to agriculture

Today, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) introduced two bills to strengthen the next generation of farmers and ranchers by reducing the burden of student loan debt and making capital easier to obtain so new farmers can buy land, equipment or livestock. The bills, the Flexible Agricultural Repayments and Modifying Schedules (FARMS) Act and the Farmers of Tomorrow Act, aim to attract younger generations to farming and shore up the future of farming and ranching in the United States, where the number of new farmers continues to decline rapidly and the average age of farmers continues to rise.  

“Oklahomans of all generations and backgrounds should have the opportunity to experience a rewarding career in agriculture, and we need to do more to encourage young people to choose agriculture,” Inhofe said. “These bills will reduce barriers of entry to farming, cut red tape and encourage young Americans to invest in themselves and their rural communities.”

“New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers help feed the nation and the world while growing our state’s economy,” Udall said. “But New Mexico has the second highest age for a farmer—68.  We need to do more to lift barriers that are preventing hopeful new farmers and ranchers from staying and investing in rural communities in New Mexico and across the country. Our common-sense, bipartisan bills tackle common financial and legal roadblocks for beginning farmers and ranchers. By addressing the obstacles that make starting a career in farming seem out of reach, we can open the door for the next generation of farmers and ranchers to step in and keep our nation’s food system the strongest and most productive in the world.”

The FARMS Act and the Farmers of Tomorrow Act is supported by the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, the Oklahoma Agricultural Cooperative Council and the Oklahoma Pork Council:

“We applaud Senator Inhofe for introducing these bills that give all young people the opportunity to start a career in farming,” said Rodd Moesel, President of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau. “The average American farmers is in his or her late 50s, and many younger Oklahomans are discouraged from farming as a career because of the high cost to begin a career and pay student loans. Our members especially appreciate that Sen. Inhofe’s legislation supports those who were not raised on a farm with their capital needs in the highly technical and land intensive business of production agriculture. These bills take reasonable, common-sense approaches to encourage young people to begin a rewarding and enriching career in agriculture.”

“The OACC applauds Senator James Inhofe for removing barriers of entry for beginning farmers,” said RJ Gray, President and CEO of the Oklahoma Agricultural Cooperative Council. “Access to capital and management of that capital is critical to the success of beginning farmers. The FARMS Act and the Farmers of Tomorrow Act will remove a huge disincentive keeping highly educated young people from getting into farming—people that we want to invest in our rural communities. These bills will provide much needed access to capital and allow young people the flexibility to restructure their student loan payments to match the realities of making a living through farming.”

“One of the greatest challenges faced by young people who want to pursue a career in farming is the sheer cost of getting started” said Roy Lee Lindsey, Oklahoma Pork Council Executive Director. “Legislation like the FARMS Act and Farmers of Tomorrow Act are important tools to help a beginning farmer secure the necessary funding to launch a rewarding career in providing food for the world. We appreciate Senator Inhofe providing the leadership to introduce these two important pieces of legislation.”

For more information about the bills, click here.