Beginning farmer incentives take shape in Ohio House

A bipartisan effort in the Ohio House gives beginning farmers financial incentive to establish themselves in the state’s agricultural industry.

Co-sponsored by Rep. John Patterson (D-99th District) and Rep. Susan Manchester (R-84th District), House Bill 183 would authorize a nonrefundable income tax credit for beginning farmers who attend a financial management program, and a nonrefundable income tax credit for individuals who sell or rent farmland, livestock, buildings or equipment to beginning farmers. Eligibility requirements would be affirmed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Both representatives offered testimony on the bill to the Ohio House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on April 9. Ohio Farm Bureau policy supports legislation that establishes beginning farmer incentives.

“Several forward-thinking OFBF members realized the challenges of exit and entry in agriculture and successfully added Farm Bureau policy supporting incentives for new and beginning farmers, said Jenna Beadle, Ohio Farm Bureau director of state policy. “Farmers are aging at a quicker rate than new farmers are joining the profession. Many beginning farmers do not have the levels of capital or credit necessary to begin farming, but even beyond that, the amount of land that is zoned for agriculture is finite.”

If passed, a beginning farmer would have to meet the following criteria:

  • Intends to farm in Ohio, or has been farming in Ohio for less than 10 years.
  • Has a household net worth of less than $800,000. This limit applies to 2019 and will be adjusted for inflation in future years.
  • Provides the majority of the day-to-day labor for and management of the farm.
  • Has adequate farming experience or demonstrates adequate knowledge about farming.
  • Submits projected earnings statements and demonstrates a profit potential.
  • Demonstrates that farming will be a significant source of the individual’s income.
  • Will not rent or lease agricultural assets from family members through this incentive program.
  • Participates in a financial management program approved by the Department of Agriculture.
  • Meets any other requirements set by the Department of Agriculture.

“The bill sponsors also would like to add a sunset provision to evaluate the impact and merits of the beginning farmer tax credit program after five years and a cap of $10 million on money that can be allocated for the credit,” Beadle said. “Their goal is to include HB 183 in the state’s main operating budget.”

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