ASPIRE Act aims to connect people to careers in agriculture


ASPIRE Act aims to connect people to careers in agriculture

Legislation that addresses workforce shortages in agriculture has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Minnesota Democrat Tina Smith tells Brownfield the Agriculture Skills Preparation for Industry Recruitment Efforts, or ASPIRE Act, gets at an issue she’s heard a lot about from farmers.

“The average age of farmers is about 57, and that number is trending up. And we know that farming and ranching is a great business, but it’s hard work and it’s hard to break in, especially if you don’t come from a farm family yourself.”

She says the bill would set up work-based training programs, internships, and apprenticeships through colleges, universities, and nonprofits like the National Young Farmers Coalition.

“To give people, especially folks who don’t come from a farming background, give them hands on experience in agriculture as a way of getting their foot in the door and addressing this need that we have for more people who want to be doing farming and ranching and agriculture.”

Minnesota Republican Tom Emmer has introduced the ASPIRE Act in the House, and Smith says she’s hopeful there’s a pathway for the bill through the 2023 Farm Bill.