Bipartisan Davis bill reauthorizes assistance act for new farmers

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) has introduced a bipartisan bill that would jumpstart and expand a key federal farm program with an additional $3.5 million in annual funding.

The congressman introduced the Veteran and Beginning Farmer Assistance Act, H.R. 6003, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH) to reauthorize the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas program (ATTRA), which provides diverse technical information and educational resources about sustainable agriculture to farmers, information providers, agriculture-related businesses, and community food organizations across the United States. 

“Our bipartisan bill provides important updates to the ATTRA program, which has proved to be valuable to several projects in my district,” Rep. Davis said. “This program will further help in providing resources, training, and technical assistance to veterans, the younger generation taking over their family farming operation, and those entering the farming profession for the first time.”

The ATTRA program taps the expertise of more than 30 sustainable agriculture specialists across 10 states and is developed and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The majority of funding for ATTRA is through a cooperative agreement with USDA Rural Development’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service.

If enacted, H.R. 6003 also would add to the law’s authorization language that it shall work to: assist beginning, socially disadvantaged, and U.S. military veteran farmers and ranchers, support farm business viability planning, and advise farmers working to protect their crops from extreme weather events, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Davis’ staff.

“Supporting our men and women in uniform when they return home is crucial and this bill will help young veterans pursue or advance their careers in agriculture,” said Rep. Kuster. “I look forward to working with Rep. Davis and our colleagues on the House Agriculture Committee to reauthorize the ATTRA program in the next Farm Bill.”

NCAT supports the measure, which has been referred for consideration to the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.