The Future of Agriculture in Missouri
Although it may not seem like it at times, there remains today a great amount of interest in choosing agriculture and farming as a career and way of life. The problem is that many of the individuals who want to break into the industry, especially those in our younger generations, feel like they don’t have the resources or the opportunities they need to be successful.
Owning and operating a farm has never been easy; it’s very difficult work that requires an enormous amount of dedication, physical labor and patience. However, the process of moving into full ownership of a farm has also never been more challenging, lengthy or expensive. This is why, according to the most recent Census of Agriculture, the average age of principal farmers in America now stands at 58.3 years — older than practically any other occupation. That same census reported that in just five years, between 2007 and 2012, agricultural production costs increased by 36 percent: a daunting statistic for anyone who is just starting out.
So how do we go about promoting agriculture among younger generations? And how do we ease the barriers preventing people from starting a farm? These are the very questions Missouri lawmakers have been asking. This past session, Senate Bill 177 was introduced to begin a discussion to address these questions and evaluate possible solutions.
Known as the Beginning Farmers’ Bill, SB 177 proposed several new programs for beginning farmers in Missouri. Specifically, it would have created three new tax deduction programs to assist beginning farmers. Senate Bill 177 also sought to establish a Beginning Farmer Center as part of the University of Missouri Extension program. The center would have offered assistance and education to new and retiring farmers throughout the state.
The landscape of agriculture in America is changing and it’s imperative that we have the ability to adapt and foster the next generation of farmers. We must work together if we are going to ensure younger generations of Missourians, as well as future generations, have the resources they need to feed and fuel the Show-Me State for years to come. While this legislation did not complete the legislative process, the provisions of SB 177 have initiated an important discussion that seeks to understand where production agriculture exists today and how the industry continues into the future.
As always, please feel free to call, email, or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.