WASHINGTON — A recently introduced House bill would give an economic boost to young people in agriculture by allowing 4-H and FFA students aged 21 and younger to keep more of the modest income they earn. The students can turn around and put the money toward higher education or future agricultural projects.

The Student Agriculture Protection Act of 2019 (H.R. 1770) would create a tax exemption for the first $5,000 of income students earn from projects completed through 4-H or FFA.

The Farm Bureau-supported measure was introduced by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas. Fifteen other members of Congress have added their names in support of the measure.

“The long-term sustainability of agriculture depends on talented young people pursuing careers in farming and ranching, as well as related fields and food-chain professions,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

“Student agricultural projects encourage interest in fields of study that will provide the next generation of farmers, ranchers, food scientists, agricultural engineers, agronomists, horticulturalists and soil scientists," he said.

Jennifer Sirangelo, President of the National 4-H Council, told the publication Brownfield Ag News that the bill would help young people who have projects outside of production agriculture, as well.

“We know there is a lot of risks that families in agriculture take to be a part of the industry," she said. "This just gives them (youth) more flexibility to be more entrepreneurial, to be more innovative and to think more creatively, which is exactly what our industry needs.”

The bill, which has also received the support of the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union and the Young Farmers Coalition, is now before the House Ways and Means committee.