Program Offers Assistance to Beginning Farmers

As a new generation of farmers begin their agribusiness careers, a new program from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers them the opportunity to receive some assistance.

The USDA’s Transition Incentive Program (TIP) is designed for retired or retiring farmers to transition their expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land to a beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer who will return the land to production for sustainable grazing or crop production.

The USDA’s Farm Services Agency (FSA) defines a beginning farmer as an individual or entity who has not operated a farm or ranch for more than 10 years. They define a socially disadvantaged farmer as an individual that has been subjected to racial, ethnic or gender prejudice including, women, African Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

An Ohio Ag Manager article states that TIP provides annual rental payments to the landowner for a maximum of two additional years after the date of the expiration of the CRP contract, provided that the transition is not to a family member.

In most instances, the most difficult thing for a beginning farmer to get his/her hands on is land.

“Being able to rent CRP acreage nearly doubled the size of my operation in one year,” said Taylor Grabanksi, a beginning farmer in North Dakota. “I started farming about 50 acres in 2002 and by 2010 was farming 550 acres.”

To be eligible for TIP, a landowner must be a retired or retiring farmer on land enrolled in an expiring CRP contract. The owner must agree to sell, have a contract to sell or agree to lease long-term (at least five years) the land enrolled in an expiring CRP contract to a beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer.

The USDA FSA sponsors a website, TIP Net, to assist those farmers who are interested in TIP and serves as a matchmaker to link farmers with expiring CRP contracts to beginning farmers.

Beginning farmers and CRP participants may enroll in TIP one year before the expiration date of a CRP contract. For more information, farmers can contact their local FSA office.

What do you think of the TIP? Do you know a farmer who has participated in the program and benefited? What was his/her experience?

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