‘Aggie Bonds’ essential to future of the small farmer
Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 01:01
Though the number of young farmers seems bleak and the average age of farmers in Oregon is over 50, things may not seem too bright for the future of Oregon agriculture. However, many young men and women are stepping forward to take the plow, and to head into a new era of agriculture. With enrollment in agricultural schools increasing, according to Capital Press, providing ways for small farmers to pursue their dreams is essential. “Aggie Bond” programs help young and upstart farmers to attain the finances to pursue their dreams of owning a farm.
According to the Capital Press, 16 states have Aggie Bonds programs. In such an important economic and socioeconomic sector, such as agriculture, there is no reason all 50 states cannot offer Aggie Bond programs. Not all states have the same agricultural output, but perhaps these bond programs will help increase their agricultural output, and therefore increase economic activity for the state.
Shockingly, Oregon does not have these Aggie Bond programs. This is nothing short of a disgrace. Considering Oregon’s agricultural output, why shouldn’t we have a program that finances beginning farmers? Oregon does have some financing options, but not Aggie Bond programs. Perhaps this is because of budget restraints or other reasons, but I still find it appalling we do not have such a program in place.
However, there is hope. House Bill 2700, according to The Capital Press, “directs the Oregon Business Development Department to develop a Beginning and Expanding Farmer Loan Program to assist beginning farmers with buying agricultural land and improving it.” Oregonians should unanimously support this bill. It should be a social priority to provide our young farmers an opportunity to pursue their dreams.
Adding to the importance of such programs, agricultural schools in the West and around the nation are seeing an increase of students going into agricultural degrees. The need for these programs has never been greater. Who better to advocate for such a program than Oregon State University?
Young agriculturalists know the pains of finding land and sufficient finances to begin their enterprises. Agriculture is a capital-intensive occupation, and also requires a lot of land, varying some for the type of agriculture. These programs would benefit young farmers who struggle to find ways to finance their dreams, not only Oregon, but around the United States.
There are agriculturalists from all backgrounds who wish to obtain these loans. There are people from urban backgrounds who aspire to grow organic foods, yet have very little to no agricultural experience. The OSU Extension Service can provide classes to educate young and upstart farmers.
But what use is that education if they cannot find the capital means to apply what they have learned? Here, Oregon falls short compared to other states, such as Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and Kansas. According to “Oregon Agriculture and the Economy: An Update,” a study done by the OSU Extension Office, agriculture in Oregon accounts for 10.4 percent of the sales in our economy, 12 percent of the employment and contributes to 7.1 percent of the value of the Oregon economy.
I am glad HB 2700 is being proposed, but I am disappointed it is coming so late. As agriculture accounts for so much of Oregon’s economy, we should have implemented such a program years ago. Now is a good time to implement such a program, albeit a little late.
Tyler Pike is a junior in agricultural sciences. The opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Barometer staff. Pike can be reached at email@example.com.