Leaving their farms and ranches at one of the most difficult times of the year, millennial farmer members of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC), the only national group solely focused on young farmers, met with their legislative representatives in Washington, D.C., to advocate for support in the upcoming farm bill.

“The 2018 Farm Bill is make or break for millennials who want to farm,” said Lindsey Lusher Shute, the co-founder and executive director of NYFC. “Unless we tackle affordable land, student debt and health care now, few of these young farmers and ranchers will make agriculture a lifelong career. With two-thirds of our farmland ready to transition, the next Farm Bill must be devoted to young farmers, who stand ready to work the land and feed our nation.”

Travelling from states such as AZ, CO, GA, IA, MD, MN, MT, NM and PA, the NYFC farmers met with elected officials serving on the Senate and House committees focused on agriculture, budget appropriations, education, environment and the workforce. These legislators included: Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Steve Daines (R-MT), David Perdue (R-GA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); as well as Representatives Austin Scott (R-GA), Scott Tipton (R-CO); Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) and Tom O’Halleran, (D-AZ). 

“We were heartened to receive such a positive response from legislators who now better understand the challenges young farmers face in their districts,” said Andrew Bahrenburg, national policy director for NYFC. “Armed with real stories from the constituents that they serve, they are ready to fight for young farmer interests in the next farm bill.”

Bahrenburg noted that NYFC will follow-up this fly-in in Washington, D.C., with roundtable discussions with elected officials in key states over the summer. In the fall, NYFC will announce the results of its signature national survey of young farmers and ranchers, and hold another fly-in in Washington, D.C.