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early-career farmers

Posted: December 15 2010

photo by loomis dean

Agriculture Gets Old: Will The West Run Out of Farmers?
A nonprofit helps young farmers break into an increasingly tough business.
By Tim Sprinkle, New West Food & Agriculture
First, consider the numbers.
According to the latest census data, there are about 285 million people living in the U.S., every single one of whom has to eat (and most of us do that several times a day).
On the flipside, the country is currently home to some 960,000 full-time “agricultural professionals” operating about 2 million farms (including part-time facilities). That’s almost 300 Americans for each full-time U.S. farmer to feed (though, granted, a lot of the food that we eat these days does come from overseas, but that’s another story). And if that figure isn’t scary enough, consider the fact that the average American farmer right now is 57 years old, most likely looking forward to a comfortable retirement sometime in the next decade or so.
Now the push to encourage the next generation of farmers makes a lot more sense.
“The hair turns gray on the prairie,” says Severine von Tscharner Fleming, creator of the nonprofit Greenhorns organization and co-founder of the National Young Farmers Coalition, “and farming is a physical job. In order to be responsive to the landscape and to be responsible to the land you’re farming you need to be thinking about of the future, and that includes the future practitioners.”
read the full article HERE

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