Pennsylvania Lawmaker Proposes Expansion of Tax Credit Program for New Farmers

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HARRISBURG, PAState Representative Paul Friel introduced a bill this week to revamp and expand Pennsylvania’s Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program. The proposed changes aim to attract and retain new farmers, addressing challenges faced by the agricultural community in the state.

The current program, established in 2020, incentivizes landowners and retiring farmers to help new farmers get started. However, it has seen limited success, with fewer than 50 applicants certified as beginning farmers since its inception. Rep. Friel, D-Chester, sees this as a call to action for more robust support mechanisms.

“It’s clear that Pennsylvania must provide better on-ramps for beginning farmers, and that’s where this bill comes in,” Friel said. He emphasized the importance of ensuring that retiring farmers can pass their land on to new farmers, often within the family. “All farming is worth incentivizing, but especially on local family farms, where Pennsylvania traditions and innovations are both passed on.”

House Bill 2414 seeks to make the tax credit more accessible and beneficial. It allows both retiring and new farmers to hold the tax credit, expanding the pool of eligible participants. The proposed update also permits credit holders to carry over unused portions of the credit for up to three years. After this period, they could apply for a limited refund of any remaining credit.

The bill aims to amend several provisions of the Tax Reform Code of 1971, specifically in relation to tax credits for beginning farmers. By doing so, it seeks to streamline the process and make the program more attractive to new entrants in the farming sector.

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One of the significant changes proposed is increasing the maximum allocation per farm or agricultural asset from $32,000 to $50,000. This increase is designed to provide more substantial financial support to new farmers, helping them navigate the initial costs associated with starting a farm.

Friel believes this legislation will have a dual benefit: assisting retiring farmers in transitioning their land and supporting the next generation of farmers. “The Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program shows our agriculture community that Pennsylvania is open for business. This bill will take it even further,” he stated.

Empowering Pennsylvania’s Farming Future: A Path to Prosperity

The importance of this bill extends beyond individual farmers. Agriculture is a vital part of Pennsylvania’s economy and cultural heritage. By ensuring that new farmers can enter the industry with the necessary support, the state can safeguard its agricultural future. This initiative also addresses broader issues of food security and sustainable farming practices.

Attracting new farmers is crucial as the current farming population ages. Many retiring farmers lack successors who are ready and able to take over their operations. Without intervention, valuable farmland could go unused, and essential farming knowledge might be lost. This legislation aims to prevent such outcomes by making it easier for new farmers to step in.

Moreover, the expanded tax credit program can stimulate local economies. New farmers often purchase equipment, supplies, and services locally, contributing to economic growth in rural areas. By supporting these new ventures, the state can foster a thriving agricultural landscape that benefits everyone.

With bipartisan support, the proposal has the potential to bring about meaningful change for the state’s farmers. As the bill moves through the legislative process, stakeholders in the agricultural community will be watching closely, hopeful that this initiative will provide the much-needed boost to ensure a vibrant future for farming in Pennsylvania.

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