(Denver, CO) — Governor John Hickenlooper signed HB 16-1194 into law, opening the door to a new program that will encourage existing farmers to help put the next generation of beginning farmers and ranchers in business. The bill will allow a modest tax deduction to individuals leasing ag land and/or equipment to beginning farmers.
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) was a solid champion of the bill as it worked its way through the legislative process. RMFU President Dale McCall noted that the average age of a farmer in America is increasing year by year and now is over 58. “This is an important day and an important bill,” he said following the governor’s bill signing event. “Farmers Union members and our partners in agriculture worked on this for the past two years. We need to get young people into farming so we can sustain this industry.”
The new law will allow existing farmers and ranchers to earn a small tax break for leasing farmland and equipment to beginning farmers. To qualify for the incentive, beginning farmers will need to apply for the program. The Colorado Agriculture Development Authority will administer the program.
The bill was introduced in the House by Colorado Representative Diane Mitsch Bush (D-Dist. 26, Steamboat Springs) and it received support in the Senate from Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Dist. I, Sterling). “This bill will help remove obstacles for young people who want to get into production agriculture,” said Rep. Mitsch Bush, adding that any steps to offset the significant expenses of land and equipment will be well worth the investment.
McCall said the U. S. needs a new generation of farmers to assure its growing population of a secure supply of food and fiber.