House Bill 95 passed the Ohio legislature April 6, clearing the way for the next generation of farmers and a more resilient food system.
The Family Farm ReGeneration Act encourages those with farmland, livestock, buildings, or equipment to sell to beginning farmers with the promise of income tax credits. Beginning farmers who attend a financial management program are also eligible for tax credits.
“Young farmers in Ohio are taking on the risks inherent in farming and working hard to build successful farm businesses,” said Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) Policy Director Amalie Lipstreu. “Access to—and secure tenure on—affordable, high quality farmland is the number one challenge young farmers are facing.”
According to the USDA, Ohio is home to more than 33,000 beginning farmers, the sixth-largest number of any state in the country. In her testimony to the Senate Ways and Means Committee on March 2, Lipstreu emphasized the hurdle many farmers face with finding land and capital when they do not come from a farming family.
Advocates also note that millions of acres are likely to change hands as many older farmers retire, meaning HB 95 provides an important bridge between landowners and land-seekers.
“We are currently experiencing one of the greatest transfers of agricultural land in history and we do not have adequate measures to keep agricultural land in production,” Lipstreu said. “We may lose that land to development, threatening the future of agriculture and the resilience of the Ohio food system.”
HB 95 passed unanimously in the Senate, but with amendments. The House concurred shortly after.
These changes included lowering the percentage of the tax credit for farmers to 3.99 percent of the sale price or rental income. Originally, the House allowed credits equal to 5 percent of the sale price, 10 percent of the rental income, or 15 percent of the cash equivalent in the first three years of a share rent agreement with a beginning farmer.
“This was the compromise that we made, and I do believe that it strengthens the bill,” said Rep. Susan Manchester (R-84), a sponsor of the bill alongside Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-19).
Lipstreu said, “This is a positive first step. We are disappointed that the tax credit for farmers leasing land has been reduced. For farmers that do not have the ability to outright purchase large tracts of land, leasing remains the most viable option. We look forward to working with agricultural leaders in the Ohio legislature to continue to support an industry that is critical to our future.”
For more information, visit action.oeffa.org.
Update: Governor DeWine signed HB 95 into law on April 18, 2022.