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Legislation supports young people in ag

Bill in House and Senate allows 4-H and FFA students to keep more of the income they earn through projects.

A pair of recently introduced bills gives young people in agriculture a boost by allowing 4-H and FFA students to keep more of the small income they earn. The students can turn around and put the money toward their education or future agricultural projects.

U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran (R., Kan.) and Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) and Reps. Michael McCaul (R., Texas) introduced legislation to support young people in agriculture by creating a tax exemption for the first $5,000 of income earned by students 18 years of age or younger from projects completed through 4-H or FFA.

Their bills -- the Agriculture Students Encourage, Acknowledge, Reward, Nurture (EARN) Act in the Senate (S. 671) and the Student Agriculture Protection Act in the House (H.R. 1626) -- enable students to keep more of the modest income they earn, which can then be invested in education savings or future agricultural projects.

“With the number of new farmers trending downward and more mouths to feed than ever across the globe, Congress must support young people who are interested in a career in agriculture,” Moran said. “This bill is one step we can take to encourage those involved in FFA and 4-H to turn their modest income from the agricultural projects into savings, money for education and training or toward a future project. Farming kids across the country represent the future of a critical industry and way of life, and this legislation represents an important investment in the next generation.”

“Ensuring members of student organizations like 4-H and FFA are afforded every opportunity to succeed is not only important for the student’s future but the future of our nation’s agriculture,” said Ernst, a former member of 4-H. “I’m proud to support the Agriculture Students EARN Act to allow our future farmers to gain valuable experience and skills through hands-on projects. By investing in our students’ futures, we are investing in the next generation of our nation’s leaders that will be on the forefront of agricultural innovation and production for years to come.”

McCaul added, “We must do more to encourage our future farmers to stay in the farming business so our country can maintain a secure and steady food supply. These students across the nation today represent the future of agriculture, and enabling them to succeed means we all succeed. That is why I am proud to reintroduce the Student Agriculture Protection Act. This bill would eliminate unnecessary barriers for our young farmers to ensure the U.S. remains outfitted with innovative minds that have allowed us to be the world leader in the agricultural industry.”

“Recruiting and retaining the next generation of young people to the family farm or to other agricultural pursuits starts here; it starts with legislation like the Agriculture Students EARN Act and the Student Agriculture Protection Act,” National FFA western region vice president Trey Elizondo said. “This proposal would undoubtedly enable me and other agricultural education students to strengthen agriculture and support the communities in which we live. My generation is ready to accept the challenge of feeding, clothing and sheltering our world, and this legislation helps us accept that challenge.”

Typical 4-H and FFA projects include showing animals at local and state fairs, growing and harvesting crops, building agricultural mechanical projects and many others. Agriculture Students EARN would lower the tax burden on the students and give them an opportunity to invest more of what they’ve earned in future projects, college funds or savings accounts.

“The Agriculture Students EARN and Student Agriculture Protection Acts will significantly impact student agriculturists,” said Natalie Harris, an FFA member from Chapman, Kan. “Lots of young people across the nation like me are trying their hardest to begin their own supervised agricultural experiences. Any help we can get to make it easier on us to apply what we are learning, to eliminate paperwork and to strengthen agriculture would be extremely beneficial and appreciated.”

Supporters of the legislation include the National FFA Organization, National 4-H Council, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union and National Young Farmers Coalition.

“The long-term sustainability of agriculture depends on talented young people pursuing careers in farming and ranching and other agricultural production and food chain professions. Student agricultural projects increase awareness of and foster an interest in fields of study that will provide the next generation of farmers and ranchers, food scientists, agricultural engineers, agronomists, horticulturalists and soil scientists,” Farm Bureau president Zippy Duvall said in a letter to Moran, Ernst and McCaul.

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