Perspective: Young Farmers
By WorldLink Staff | June 25, 2013 | Leave a Comment
As America’s farmers retire, there are fewer new farmers to take their place. Lindsey Lusher Shute, Director of the National Young Farmers’ Coalition, discusses why this matters and what can be done to foster the next generation of farmers.
Why do we need more young farmers?
Lindsey Lusher Shute: The nation’s farmers are retiring faster than they’re being replaced, and a quarter of all farmers are expected to retire in the next twenty years. This situation has major implications for food security, the health of our rural places, and our farming traditions.
What are the biggest challenges facing the next generation of farmers?
Lindsey Lusher Shute: Capital and land top most young farmers’ lists, followed by health insurance and student loans. Because so many farmers discouraged their children from farming over the past thirty years, many young farmers are coming from non-farming backgrounds. With no land or equipment to inherit, these farmers are starting from scratch and face big obstacles to getting a business off the ground.
With land prices skyrocketing across the country, finding an affordable and stable place to settle can be a tremendous challenge. In terms of capital, there are more lenders willing to take the risk with new farmers, but still not enough. Even when farmers can get a loan, many are very concerned about how they’ll make it through the first years when they’re figuring out their farm systems and developing a market.