Markell Signs “Young Farmers” Bill at State Fair

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Governor Markell standing with Stae Representatives Atkins, Lee and Peterman.

Released from the Office of Governor Markell

Innovative Effort Helps Finance First Farms and Supports Agriculture

Harrington, DE – The outlook for young people interested in careers in farming got a bit brighter in Delaware when Governor Jack Markell signed into law a bill that creates the Delaware Young Farmers Program. Markell signed the law at the Delaware State Fair, which has been a showcase for Delaware agriculture for more than 90 years.

“Delaware is taking an important step to make sure our agriculture industry is stronger for generations to come, planting the seed for future careers in farming,” Markell said.

“The young farmer program is unique and special to the state of Delaware – an investment that will benefit all of Delaware’s citizens,” said Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee.

The program, an investment provided for in the FY2012 budget, will reduce the capital investment for young people looking to set up an agribusinesses and structure an affordable repayment program for them. The land a young farmer purchases will also be permanently preserved as farmland through the Delaware AgLands Program.

The current average age of a farmer in Delaware is 57.

“We’re building on the best farmland preservation in the country and carving aglands money for young people to get into farming,” said Markell.

Kee pointed out that the Delaware agriculture industry is based on 2,500 farmers and generates $1.2 billion in sales every year, which expands to $8 billion worth of economic activity each year for Delaware. The state ranks 9th nationwide in the percentage of land area devoted to cropland, with thirty-five percent of Delaware’s land.

“The Governor challenged us [the Cabinet] to come up with legacy ideas and this was one of them,” added Kee.

The Governor was joined by many members of the Delaware General Assembly, who he thanked for their cooperation and support of the bill.

“This program will hopefully stand the test of time and benefit farmers for generations to come,” he said.