COLUMBUS – In recent weeks Ohio lawmakers have made it financially easier for farmers to operate with tax incentives and reduced loan restrictions. Recently, House Bills 95, 397 and 440, all aimed at helping an $8.6 billion a year industry, were signed into law.
State Representative Scott Wiggam (R- Wayne County), who supported the legislation, understands the how important Ohio’s agriculture is to the state’s economy.
“Farming is a critical infrastructure across the state and vital to Wayne County,” said Wiggam.
Wayne County is a top producer of cattle and dairy in the state each year and with more than 1,750 farmers totaling 242,000 acres of farmland, the county contributes $327 million annually to the state’s economy.
Wiggam is pleased that state lawmakers have created legislation that will help Ohio’s largest economic industry for generations to come.
House Bill 95 will help usher in the next generation of producers by establishing a tax credit program for beginning farmers. The average age of Ohio farmers is 58-years-old and with more than 77,000 farms across the state, Wiggam believes this legislation is a way to protect the future of the industry.
“Agriculture touches the lives of every Ohioan and this legislation will help off-set the cost of increasing operational expenses and help the next generation of Ohio farmers by financially easing them into the industry,” said Wiggam.
The credit will be applied to established farmers as they sell or rent their agricultural assets to beginning farmers who take a qualified financial management course. Agriculture assets include farmland, livestock, buildings or equipment.
Under the bill, the credit is limited to five years and allows up to $10 million for the total amount of tax credits awarded for the life of the program.
House Bill 397 will help with land management for tenant farmers. The legislation will require a written notice from a land owner by September 1 of the year they want to terminate a lease agreement.
House Bill 440, also known as the Ohio Gains Initiative, will expand the type of agri-businesses able to borrow and will eliminate the cap that can be borrowed through the Agricultural Linked Deposit Program (Ag-LINK).
“Farmers invest hundreds of thousands of dollars each year just to get their crops in the field and keep them growing,” said Wiggam. “The Ohio Gains Initiative helps our farmers by allowing them to borrow more money at a reduced interest rate, yielding thousands of dollars in savings each year.”
Under current Ohio law, Ag-LINK loans are capped at $150,000. This legislation will eliminate current loan caps to help provide farmers with interest rate reductions on new or existing loans for fertilizer, seed, equipment or any other operational need and will also expand eligibility to agricultural cooperatives.
Last year, the AG-LINK program assisted 571 farmers and agriculture businesses lower their interest rates for new loans totaling $63 million.
To learn more about the Ag-LINK Deposit program or to apply for a loan, please visit https://tos.ohio.gov/ag-link.