Congresswoman Lee, Sen Welch Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Help Young and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Cut Through Red Tape and Access USDA Loans

**For Immediate Release**

Kyla Gill, Kyla.Gill@mail.house.gov

Vaibhav Vijay, vaibhav.vijay@mail.house.gov

Congresswoman Lee, Sen Welch Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Help Young and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Cut Through Red Tape and Access USDA Loans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Summer Lee (D-Pa.-12), and U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, led U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) in introducing the Future Farmers and Ranchers of Tomorrow Act, legislation to increase access to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs for young and new farmers. The bill would revise USDA’s “qualified beginning farmer or rancher” definition to allow non-related beginning farmers and ranchers in joint entities to be eligible for FSA loans.

“As we work to strengthen our agricultural sector and support the next generation of farmers, it’s essential that we make it easier for new entrants to gain access to the tools and resources they need. The Future Farmers and Ranchers of Tomorrow Act is a crucial step towards dismantling barriers and ensuring that ALL aspiring farmers and ranchers, regardless of their background, have the opportunity to thrive. This legislation will help address the long-standing impacts of anti-Black racism in the farming industry, which has historically denied Black farmers equal access to land, loans, and opportunities. We’re not just helping individual farmers—we’re ensuring our communities can continue to grow their own food and prosper for generations to come,” said Representative Lee. 

“Farming is a cherished tradition engrained in our state’s culture. Many beginning farmers in Vermont and across the country are eager to continue the tradition of starting a small, Vermont-sized farm, but securing USDA assistance can be difficult. The Future Farmers and Ranchers of Tomorrow Act will reduce barriers to USDA loans and help more aspiring farmers start to grow the farm they’ve always dreamed of,” said Senator Welch

“I’ve heard from Minnesota farmers struggling to gain access to vital government assistance programs, and every time I meet with young farmers, we talk about the difficulties they face in starting their businesses,” said Senator Smith. “With food shortages, supply chain snags and a tight labor market around the world, it’s critical we support and grow our farming sector here at home. This bill will cut unnecessary red tape for farmers applying for FSA loans and will increase opportunities for hundreds of new farmers across Minnesota and the country.” 

“Access to credit is vital for beginning and small-scale farmers and ranchers across the United States. While it is important that FSA’s beginning farmer and rancher loan-making program stay true to its mission, the blood and marriage requirement in question is outdated and overly restrictive, instead working against many aspiring groups of producers,” said Rural Coalition Executive Director Lorette Picciano. “The Future Farmers and Ranchers of Tomorrow Act opens a new door by removing these restrictions, demonstrating our shared commitment to supporting this incoming generation of farmers and ranchers.” 

In Pennsylvania, 95% of farms are family owned and operated, yet young farmers, particularly those under the age of 35, make up less than 13% of all farm operators. According to the latest 2022 Pennsylvania Census of Agriculture, there are 90,032 producers in the state, but shockingly, only 92 of these are Black or African American. This statistic highlights the urgent need for legislation such as the Future Farmers and Ranchers of Tomorrow Act, which aims to make farming a more accessible and equitable field.

The Future Farmers and Ranchers of Tomorrow Act is endorsed by the American Sustainable Business Network, Black Farmers and Ranchers New Mexico Global, Farm Action Fund, Grupo Amor, Land Loss Prevention Project, Latino Farmers and Ranchers International Inc., National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Family Farm Coalition, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Pasa Sustainable Agriculture, Rural Coalition, Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT), and Transfarmation Project. 

Learn more about the bill. 

Read the full text of the bill. 



Since taking office in January 2023, Lee, who serves on the House Oversight Committee and Space, Science and Technology Committee, has delivered historic levels of federal investment totaling over $1.2 Billion brought back to Western PA, including over $200 million for infrastructure, over $50 million for affordable transit, and over $500 million to keep clean energy manufacturing at home in Pennsylvania. These investments will help improve Western Pennsylvania’s infrastructure and transit, ensure cleaner air and drinking water, lower housing costs, fund research institutions, fuel clean manufacturing, fund STEM innovation and entrepreneurship, boost workforce development, and create thousands of good paying union jobs.  Lee and her team have also delivered casework and constituent services to over 2,000 constituents with issues ranging from helping our seniors and disabled community access Medicare and social security to helping folks secure housing and helping families with immigration support and passports.

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