It’s no secret that agriculture is vital to the state of Ohio. The industry is one of the largest economic drivers in the state, and to keep that statistic steady well into the future, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and lawmakers are taking action.

House Bill (HB) 183 was introduced in 2019, with a companion bill in the Senate, Senate Bill 159. HB 183 proposes a tax credit program that would incentivize retiring farmers to sell or rent their land, equipment or livestock to beginning farmers.

“We’ve been researching this issue for a couple of years and have some very forward-thinking members who led the charge on addressing it,” says Jenna Beadle, director of state policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “The gist of the problem is that the farming population is aging at a quicker rate than new farmers are joining. There has been a national decline. We see that it’s difficult to leave agriculture if you don’t have family to pass it along to, and it’s difficult to get into it if you don’t have a foothold.”

The Farm Bureau Federation looked to other states who had similar legislation in place, including Iowa and Minnesota, and modeled the bill after those.

The majority of the tax credit would be for the established farmer who sells or leases to the beginning farmer. The beginning farmer also would receive a smaller credit if they take a certified financial management planning course. There are additional stipulations the beginning farmer must meet under the Department of Agriculture, such as:

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  the farmer’s net worth must be under $800,000 as a household,

  must have been farming for less than 10 years,

  must want to farm in Ohio,

  must demonstrate they have adequate knowledge and experience,

  must show a significant source of income.

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“Beginning farmers often lack the capital and credit they need to start, and they’re at a disadvantage to other established farmers,” Beadle says. “This bill would give an incentive for older farmers to do business with them.”

She adds that long term, the hope is that HB 183 would encourage and enable the next generation to move into agriculture.

“It’s near impossible to get into the industry unless you have friends and neighbors to help you out,” Beadle says. “Not everyone has that.”

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