It’s a historic win for Minnesota young and beginning farmers as a first in the nation land access bill was signed by Governor Mark Dayton Tuesday evening. Authored by Rep. Nels Pierson (R-Rochester) and Sen. Mike Goggin (R-Redwing), the bill supports the transition of land to young and beginning farmers through a tax credit incentive.
“This bill offers a win-win solution for the future of farming in Minnesota,” said Central Minnesota Young Farmers Coalition co-founder (CMNYFC) Matthew Fitzgerald, an organic grain farmer. “This is also the first bill to include an incentive for the sale of farmland – making it a historic win.”
“Less than four percent of Minnesota farmers are under the age of 35 and access to land is the number one barrier to getting started,” said Co-founder and conventional hops farmer Eric Sannerud. “This bill offers a tangible way to address pressing problems.”
Through the bill, landowners receive a state income tax credit when they sell or rent land or agricultural assets to a beginning farmer. The credit equals five percent of the sale price or ten percent of the cash rent, or fifteen percent for a cash share agreement. In turn, the beginning farmer must take a farm management course to qualify for the tax incentive and would be eligible for a tax credit covering the full cost of training. The tax credit is effective in the 2018 tax year and is funded at 12 million dollars for the 2020-2021 biennium. The funds are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Finally, the sunset for the credit is 2023 with the Rural Finance Authority issuing a report on the effectiveness of the credit no later than Feb. 1, 2022.
Beginning farmer and Central Minnesota Young Farmers Coalition co-leader Andrew Barsness talked about the organizing effort to pass the bill: “Young farmers across the state worked hard to see this pass. We organized, testified, and worked with the authors to get a good piece of legislation. For many of us, this was our first time getting political. This effort showed that by working with a broad coalition and staying focused on practical solutions, beginning farmers have a voice and power.”
Founded in 2016, the Central Minnesota Young Farmers Coalition is a membership organization of farmers from Benton, Grant, Sterns, Meeker, Milaca, McLeod, Wright, Carver, and Rice counties. A local chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition, the group meets regularly to socialize, network, and advocate for young and beginning farmers.
Rachel Brann, a beginning cut-flower farmer, summarized the impact of the bills by saying: “More beginning farmers on the land means stronger communities for Minnesota. This bill helps all farmers -big or small, rural or urban, conventional or organic.”