Jocelyn Schlichting is a fourth-generation farmer who recently joined Farm Policy Facts on our Groundwork podcast to talk about the future of agriculture. Jocelyn returned to the farm five years ago after working as an accountant in corporate America, finding new purpose in growing the food that helps feed America, and the world.
“Something like the war in Ukraine really highlights that our production is making it across the world,” Jocelyn told us. “It’s pretty fulfilling knowing that we contribute to that food stability worldwide.”
Jocelyn is much more likely to be found in front of a computer than driving a combine. She uses her accounting and analytical skills to help her family make data-driven decisions on their farm.
“If we have a bad weather event, now I know exactly how much money we already have into that field. And what we have at risk if something goes wrong,” she said. “It’s terrifying in a lot of ways. There’s a lot out of your control in agriculture.”
One day, Jocelyn’s parents will step away from farming and Jocelyn will inherit the operation. But proposed changes to a tax provision called “stepped-up basis” could destroy this dream by altering the way family farms are taxed when they’re transferred from one generation to the next.
“Eliminating stepped-up basis would absolutely eliminate my opportunity to farm.”
Jocelyn explained that most of her family’s assets are tied up in the land that they farm. Taxing the assets her parents inherited in the 1960s at today’s current value “would absolutely be the death of family farming. Certainly, my family farm.”
The land is the most valuable part of the farm, in more ways than one. If Jocelyn and her family didn’t invest in soil health, the health of their crops would suffer. That’s why being a good steward of the land is not only the right thing to do, but a smart business decision.
As Congress begins examining the federal policies that support our farmers in the Farm Bill, Jocelyn wants Congress to know that they can trust farmers to get the job done.
“We have your best interest and our best interest in mind. Our goals are the same, for the environment, for food production, for community, economics,” Jocelyn said. “We’ve got this. We’re taking care of it.”
As the next generation of family famers pick up the mantle of feeding, clothing, and fueling America, we need to ensure that the government does its part to help provide a stable and dependable farm safety net.