Ten Senators have introduced the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011, a comprehensive bill intended for inclusion in the upcoming farm bill that highlights federal programs supporting economic opportunities for young and beginning farmers and ranchers. 

The bill addresses many of the barriers that new agriculture entrepreneurs face such as limited access to land and markets, hyper land price inflation, high input costs, and a lack of sufficient support networks.

An identical companion bill (H.R.3236) was introduced in the House by Representatives Tim Walz (D-Minn.) and Jeff Fortenbery (R-Neb.) in October. 

"We applaud Senators Harkin and his colleagues for introducing this legislation which is so important to the future of farming in this country," said Juli Obudzinski, a policy specialist with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. "The bill pulls together the best ideas from around the country for advancing new farming opportunities by building on the progress of previous farm bills, and stepping up the pace of reform."

In his introductory remarks, Senator Harkin noted, "One of the most hopeful occurrences in rural America is when someone is able to get started in farming or ranching and go on to build a successful operation.  We need more beginning farmers and ranchers in America to secure critical supplies of food, fuel, and fiber for the future; to care for and conserve our soil, water, and other natural resources; and to join in the life of healthy and vibrant local communities.”