Emmer said, “The strength of our nation’s food security rests on the shoulders of the hardworking men and women of our ag community. Unfortunately, this industry faces an aging workforce coupled with endemic labor shortages.”
“We are proud to lead this effort, which will provide hands-on experience and invest existing funds in our next generation of producers,” Emmer concluded.
Specifically, the ASPIRE Act establishes a work-based agriculture training program within the USDA’s existing Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program to fund participation in apprenticeship and internship programs with local agriculture businesses.
“Agriculture is the backbone of Minnesota’s diverse economy,” said Senator Smith. “With food shortages, supply chain snags and a tight labor market around the world, it’s vital we support and grow our farming sector here at home. This legislation will provide work-based training programs to support a new generation of farmers and ranchers in Minnesota and around the country.”
“As the average age of U.S. farmers continues to rise, and more of our nation’s farmers near retirement, it is crucial that Congress work to support a new generation of farmers and ranchers,” said Congresswoman Pingree. “That’s why I am co-leading the bipartisan ASPIRE Act which will provide beginning farmers and ranchers with the hands-on experience they need to be successful through apprenticeships and internships.”
Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation President Dan Glessing said, “MFBF supports the agriculture workforce development bill put forth by Rep. Emmer. This bill provides programming to get the next generation of farmers the hands-on experience and knowledge to be successful on their farms.”
“Apprenticeship programs provide valuable training in many areas of the workforce and Minnesota Farmers Union is proud to support the establishment of a work-based agriculture training program within the federal Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program,” said Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish. “These apprenticeships and internships will be particularly beneficial for people who are interested in a career in agriculture, but aren’t involved in a generational operation. Likewise, apprenticeships and internships allow existing farmers to pass on their knowledge.”
Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the agriculture sector is only expected to grow two percent—lower than the average across other industries. In the Sixth Congressional District, approximately 11% of residents are employed in an agriculture-affiliated position.
Additionally, the average age of workers in the ag industry is climbing, and not enough younger workers are filling their shoes. Farmers under the age of 35 now make up only 9% of the ag workforce. In Minnesota, ag industry apprenticeships make up just 1% of the available apprenticeships.