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Where Have All the (Young) Farmers Gone?
Katey Troutman MORE ARTICLES
January 15, 2015
The average age of the American farmers is now 58. This is hardly news anymore; reporters and activists have been declaiming the advancing age of American farmers for years now, alongside similar statistics regarding the ongoing plight of the family farm in the wake of those seemingly immovable monoliths, the Industrial Factory Farms.
But it’s true that the advancing age of the American farmer is worrying. According to the U.S. agricultural census the average age of a farmer in America has increased by more than eight years over the course of the last three decades, with many in agriculture beginning to wonder what is going to become of the American farm after more than a quarter of all American farmers retire, as they are expected to do, over the course of the next 20 years.
“If we don’t help the young generation of farmers get on the land, retiring farmers will quickly run out of people to sell the land to, individuals who will continue to grow food on it and treat it as farmland,” Holly Rippon-Butler, who serves as the land access manager for NYFC, told Pew Research. If that happens, Rippon-Butler says, “we will lose the ability to produce our own food and to ensure that the food supply is controlled and safe.”
Despite the trend of the aging farmer, however, there are still young American farmers out there; often, they’re producing some of the nation’s tastiest food. The key, experts say, is just knowing where to look for them. But before we do, let’s examine how this new generation of greenhorns differs from their more venerable counterparts.