Farming is tough to get into; start up costs are high and when it comes to land, it's hard to find and buy. But a new initiative by the U.S Department of Agriculture wants to help new and beginning farmers have access to land.
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is popular among farmers, it lets them take at-risk farmland out of production, but signing up means you can't use that land for production for the next 10 to 15 years.
However, the USDA says if you want to sell some of that land to new farmers, you can terminate your contract.
USDA Deputy Under Secretary Lanon Baccam says, "Between 2015 and 2019, we're expecting 10 percent of agricultural lands to change hands. So we want to make sure that these current producers or landowners have people that they can transfer those lands to. And so we can incentives them to transfer this land to new and beginning farmers with this program."
That's about 93 million acres that could be sold in the next few years. On January 9th, the USDA will start letting some CRP contracts go.
Iowa Farmer Aaron White is a producer that could benefit from this program. After serving in Afghanistan, he helps out his dad on the farm while running a row crop and cow-calf operation of his own.
White says, "A lot of beginning farmers get into the niche farming because that's really the only way to get into the business and now we're starting to see this program will be able to help beginning farmers actually get involved into the operation and continue on that farm business through the years."
White says a problem he sees in livestock is how farmers can earn more money from CRP versus money made with grazing.
Baccam says CRP sometimes can include land that is still good for production. It just gets lumped in with other highly erodible acres or other conservation-risk ground.
He says, "One, new and beginning farmers get access to land. And two, we can take these acres that we get back and put them back into CRP practices, which may have a higher conservation index"
CRP is capped at 24 million acres across the U.S. Baccam says getting farmers to sell some of the good ground in CRP could let other farmers get their high-risk ground out of production.