by Ben Nuelle
Two Ag state lawmakers introduce legislation to encourage a new generation of Ag producers.
U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced the Agriculture Students Encourage, Acknowledge, Reward, Nurture (EARN) Act last week.
The legislation amends the tax code to exclude from gross income the first $5,000 earned by students who are 18 years old or younger on agricultural projects completed under the supervision of 4-H or FFA.
Iowa FFA President Michael Tupper says the EARN Act is huge for students.
“A lot of these students use their projects in 4-H and FFA to pay for that first year of college or first couple years of college. Every little bit helps. It’s a real testament to how much Senator Ernst believes in the future of agriculture for Iowa and really helping to engage students. [This] helps them to utilize that Supervised Agriculture Experience project that they are going to have in the fullest way possible so they can get the most out of that experience that they possibly can.”
According to the latest agricultural census, the average age of the U.S. farmer is over 58 years old and trending upward. By lowering the tax burden on projects, the EARN Act would encourage more students to complete agricultural projects under 4-H and FFA. The hands-on experience that supervised agricultural projects provide aims to inspire a new generation of farmers and ranchers.
Supporters of the legislation include National FFA Organization, National 4-H Council, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, and National Young Farmers Coalition.
“For agriculture and our rural way of life to thrive, it is essential for a new generation of young people to return to rural America to live, work and raise their families,” Sen. Moran said. “Our policies, including the tax code, should encourage this goal by fostering student interest in pursuing a career in agriculture, and I’m proud to have Senator Ernst join me in introducing the Agriculture Students Earn Act.”
“It is so important that we encourage our students to stay engaged in vocational and agricultural education programs, particularly as the demand for young farmers continues to grow. I’m proud to support the Agriculture Students EARN Act, which would promote our youth’s involvement in programs that serve as an introduction to careers in agriculture,” said Sen. Ernst, a former member of the 4-H. “Alleviating some of the tax burden these hardworking students face on the income they earn from 4-H or FFA projects is a step in the right direction to help bridge the generational gap, and ensure our youth is ready to take the reins when their time comes.”