USDA unveils new program to assist beginning farmers

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p style="margin-bottom: 6pt; mso-margin-top-alt: auto" class="MsoNormal">USDA unveils new program to assist beginning farmers

By Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, May 14, 2010 - Starting May 17, retiring producers can sign up for the Transition Incentives Program (TIP) - a new program under the Conservation Title of the 2008 Farm Bill - to encourage retired or retiring owners or operators to transition their land to beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers. The TIP was created in the 2008 Farm Bill and authorized at a funding level of $25 million.

To be eligible, TIP requires that the retired or retiring farmer or rancher:

  • Have land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) that is in the last year of the contract.
  • Agree to allow the beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher make conservation and land improvements.
  • Agree to sell, or have a contract to sell, or agree to long-term lease (a minimum of 5 years) the land under CRP contract to a beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher by Oct. 1 of the year the CRP contract expires.
“Ensuring that our nation's land is returned to production using sustainable methods is critical not only for our future food supply, but also for the economic future of our rural communities,” said Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “Access to land is one of the greatest challenges faced by new farmers. The Transition Incentives Program is one more tool in the USDA toolkit to protect family farms and support beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers.”
 
"The taxpayers have spent a lot of money over a lot of years supporting the CRP and as a taxpayer doing that myself, I think it's been an incredibly important investment in terms of increased wildlife habitat, stemming erosion, protecting sensitive waterways - the whole slew of objectives that we use the CRP to achieve and have been very well calibrated over the years using the Enviromental Benefits Index.  So, we don't want to lose these very significant public investments in these lands; we want them to remain in a sustainable context." 

Merrigan said she hoped that the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union and other organizations would assist USDA in publicizing TIP. 
 

If all program requirements are met, TIP provides annual rental payments to the retiring farmer for up to two additional years after the date of the expiration of the CRP contract, provided the transition is not to a family member. To learn more about program, producers interested in applying and participating in TIP should visit their USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office or www.fsa.usda.gov.

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