Concerns of Young Farmers

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Young Farmers Share Their Biggest Concerns in a New Survey from the NYFC

With the average age of the American farmer rising almost to the retirement age, it’s clear that the country needs more young farmers to continue the agricultural tradition. And, you know, feed us.

The National Young Farmers Coalition conducted a survey—its second ever—of more than 3,500 farmers under the age of 40, asking about their economic situations and daily struggles, trying to get a sense of the overall picture of young farmers in the US. This is the future of food in America, and there are major obstacles in its way.

The NYFC represents thousands of young farmers; its general positions are to promote independent farms, sustainable practices, diversity in the industry, fair labor, and other basically unassailable values. The demographic picture of the survey is interesting: 60 percent are women, 69 percent have degrees beyond high school, 75 percent didn’t grow up in a farm family, and 75 percent describe their farms as “sustainable.” (63 percent described their farms as “organic,” though due to the cost, many have not been certified as such by the USDA.)

Their concerns are fairly consistent. Access to land remains a huge obstacle, partly due to the difficulties in securing loans. Twenty-nine percent called student loan debt a significant problem; for a tenth of the farmers surveyed, it was the biggest obstacle to success. Access to skilled labor is a major issue. Continue reading at Modern Farmer

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