Mark O’Neill, Media and Strategic Communications Director
For Immediate Release: March 27, 2019
Hundreds of Pennsylvania Farmers Travel to Harrisburg for State Legislative Conference
Full news release
(Harrisburg) – Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) is urging members of the state General Assembly to support legislation that would provide a tax credit for landowners who sell or lease land to “beginning farmers.” Nearly 300 farmers traveled to Harrisburg to discuss the tax credit bill and other priority issues with state lawmakers as part of PFB’s State Legislative Conference.
During a news conference in the Capitol Media Center, PFB announced its support for Senate Bill 478, which would provide incentives to landowners to lease or sell their property to young farmers. Under the bill, a landowner would receive a one-time tax credit totaling 5% of the sales price with a maximum credit of $32,000 or a 10% credit on the gross rental price with a maximum credit of $7,000 per year. The landowner, who rents property to a qualified beginning farmer, would be eligible for the tax credit for a maximum of three years.
“Over and over we hear from young farmers who are hindered from establishing their own businesses due to the lack of affordable land to buy or rent. We are hopeful that the legislation will reduce some of those roadblocks and pave the way for a better future for young people who have a passion for growing food to meet the needs of consumers,” said PFB President Rick Ebert.
The prime sponsor of the bill is Senator Elder Vogel, who is Chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. Vogel says there are specific criteria defining who can qualify as a beginning farmer, including the exclusion of individuals who have engaged in farming for ten years or longer.
“The legislation will offer a tangible incentive for landowners to help new farmers and is a way to show the agriculture community that Pennsylvania is open for business, considering none of our neighboring states offer a similar tax credit program,” said Senator Elder Vogel.
During the event, Dauphin County hay farmer Tyler Shaw discussed the potential benefits of the legislation.
“The tax credit should provide more opportunities for me to rent land, help me solidify existing rental agreements and potentially allow me to enter into more favorable three-year lease agreements,” said Tyler Shaw. “Ultimately, I hope it creates an opportunity for me to be able to purchase my own land.”
Meanwhile, Cumberland County dairy farmer Jason Nailor, who has been farming for 11 years, and therefore, is not eligible as a beginning farmer, says his goal of becoming a full-time farmer could have been much easier to achieve if the option of offering a favorable tax credit to a landowner existed.
“Access to available farmland for rent is extremely competitive. If I could have told a landowner that he or she would receive a tax credit to rent me land as a qualified young farmer, it undoubtedly would have provided me more opportunities to rent farmland at a fair price,” said Jason Nailor. “By growing my own crops, I could have saved money and cut feed costs for my dairy cows.”
The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) says similar legislation has successfully been enacted in Minnesota, following a successful campaign by the Central Minnesota Young Farmers Coalition in 2017.
"Beginning Pennsylvania farmers are struggling to access affordable farmland. High farmland prices, development pressure and a lack of transparent land markets all contribute to this major barrier for young farmers hoping to build successful farming careers,” said David Howard, NYFC Northeast Campaigns Director. “This policy approach of providing incentives to landowners has proven successful in Minnesota, where a similar program facilitated more than 400 transactions between asset owners and beginning farmers. We applaud Senator Elder Vogel Jr. for his leadership on this important issue, and look forward to helping pass and enact the legislation.”
PFB is encouraging the General Assembly to pass the legislation this year.
“Pennsylvania’s farming population is getting older and more serious conversations are taking place concerning where the next generation of farmers will come from. We need to do everything we can to remove obstacles facing future farmers and we believe Senator Vogel’s bill could play a role in minimizing one of those barriers,” concluded Ebert. Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization, representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.