If this new act passes through Congress, hopeful new farmers will get a lot of help with their education. A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Young Farmers Success Act, which makes farming one of a few professions eligible for loan forgiveness.
So what does that mean? Well, a few things.
First and foremost, the bill needs to pass. And given the current political climate, that may prove difficult. A similar bill failed to make it through Congress last year.
But if it does, that means students who need loans to make it through school receive financial help. Essentially, if you make 10 years of successive minimum payments on your loans, the government forgives the rest of the loan at the decade mark.
That may sound like a long wait, but it amounts to potentially tens of thousands of crucial dollars. Right now, students who go on to become teachers, police officers and select other civil servants qualify for loan forgiveness. And the Young Farmers Success Act simply adds farming to that exclusive list.
Representative Joe Courtney, a democrat from Connecticut, told CNN affiliate Gant News, “America needs a new generation of farmers, now more than ever. The number of new farmers entering the field of agriculture has dropped by 20 percent, while the average farmer age has now risen above 58-years-old.”
That spells concern for a nation rich in land but low in human capital. And one of the big reasons so few young people enter into farming revolves around the cost. Education remains a vital component of farming as technology and tactics continually evolve. But education also increasingly costs more.
A 2015 National Young Farmers Coalition Survey found money plays a huge part. In fact, as many as one-third of potential farmers put off starting a career in agriculture due to student loans.
Fingers crossed this bipartisan bill passes.