Rep. Peter Welch today convened a roundtable of young Vermont farmers and agricultural leaders to discuss the challenges facing young people interested in pursuing agricultural careers. Welch unveiled bipartisan legislation that would encourage young farmers to take over family farms and pursue careers in agriculture.
"Farmers in Vermont and across the country are aging," Congressman Welch said. "As they approach retirement, it is critical that younger farmers step in to continue feeding the nation, driving the rural economy, and preserving our rural landscape. High student loan debt is a significant barrier to young people entering the agricultural workforce. This common-sense legislation would provide relief from that debt burden for young people willing to make a long-term commitment to farming."
Welch, joined by six House colleagues, has cosponsored the Young Farmers Success Act (HR. 1060) which would forgive student loan debt for eligible young people who choose to make a long-term commitment to farming.
Specifically, the bipartisan bill would add farmers to the eligibility list for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, an existing federal program that includes government service professionals, teachers, and nurses. Qualifying young farmers who make 10 years of income-driven student loan payments would then have the balance of their loans forgiven.
"The future of our rural communities and our national food system depend on recruiting the next generation of farmers," said Andrew Bahrenburg, National Policy Director for the National Young Farmers Coalition. "Unfortunately, starting a career in agriculture has never been more difficult, and student loan debt is holding young farmers back. The Young Farmer Success Act would help remove this critical barrier, and invest in the grit and determination of our young farmers."
Today's roundtable is part of a series Welch is convening around the state in preparation for writing a new Farm Bill next year.
The Young Farmer Success Act (HR. 1060) is sponsored by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT).