In order to recruit new generations to the agriculture industry, Missouri state lawmakers passed a bill to incentivize selling land to beginning farmers.
According to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the average age of a Missouri farmer is 59.4 years old and less than 5% of all farmers in the state are under 35.
“A lot of them are really passionate to go back to the farm, but like me, they have to get another job and then go back to the farm. So, getting that financial turnover can be difficult,” said 19-year-old Ethan Vanderwert.
Vanderwert comes from six generations of farmers on both sides. He grew up on a farm his whole life and continues to help out at his father’s cattle farm in New Franklin, Missouri.
Unfortunately, a lot of family farms like Vanderwert’s are dying off across the country, because current producers and aspiring farmers are at a standstill: High taxes to sell and high costs to buy are barriers for both parties.
And experts say it is not uncommon for landowners to hold onto land to avoid paying high capital gains taxes.
Because of this, Missouri state lawmakers are hoping to help current producers and young farmers like Vanderwert with the financial barriers to retirement and entry.
House Bill 202, passed into law, authorizes an income tax deduction of up to $500,000 per year for selling a farm to a beginning farmer and up to $25,000 per year from leases or crop share arrangements.
“It incentivizes existing farmers to sell their land to keep property, maybe in the family, but definitely in the country, which we need more of,” said U.S Representative Mark Alford, who serves the 4th Congressional District of Missouri.
Vanderwert says the agriculture industry has already lost a lot of young talent to corporate nine-to-fives, but he hopes by carrying on this family farm, it can be living proof that you can have both.
“I’d encourage them to re-explore their option. The farm is definitely a place that there can be financial stability, there is no better asset than land,” said Vanderwert.