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Down payment assistance grants aim to help aspiring farmers

(House Photography file photo)

Looking to help people interested in farming acquire land and increase the food supply in Minnesota, proposed legislation would help farmers get down payment assistance.

Sponsored by Rep. Samantha Vang (DFL-Brooklyn Center), HF3263 would provide grants up to $15,000 per eligible farmer through the Department of Agriculture, which would receive $3 million for the program in fiscal year 2023.

The bill was laid over Monday by the House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill. There is no Senate companion.

“We’ve heard from farmers across the state how to access land is often a critical barrier towards becoming a farmer. With an average age of a farmer being 56 years old, we will experience, if we haven’t already, workforce issues on our most critical need for our food system. We will need to build the next generation of farmers,” Vang said.

Eligible farmers would need to be Minnesota residents purchasing a farm and they would need to provide a non-state funding match.

Farmers would be required to provide the majority of the day-to-day physical labor and management of the farm, farmers could not earn more than $250,000 a year in gross sales of farm products, and farmers or their spouse could not have direct or indirect ownership interest in farmland.

The farmer would be required to own and farm the land for at least five years or pay a penalty equal to 20% of the grant per year.

“Farming is a capital-intensive venture, especially what’s happening today with the prices of fertilizer and fuel and such,” said Rep. Paul Anderson (R-Starbuck). “We hope none of those things have happened, but they do happen in the world of agriculture.”


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