Posts tagged SSouthern SAWG Conference
U.S. Department of Sustainable Agriculture?

You may have noticed that we at Southern SAWG are making a big deal of Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan speaking at our conference. Frankly, we wouldn’t do this for just any person in a high government position. While we encourage all people in government to attend our conference and exchange ideas with farmers and others, not all have been equally encouraging of us. So we are a bit wary about who gets the microphone under our banner. 

Why is Kathleen Merrigan different? Because she is the first person to serve in such a high post at USDA – second in command – who comes from the sustainable food movement.

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Encouraging Young Farmers

All my life I’ve heard that farmers in the U.S. are getting older. Somehow that statement never concerned me much. Well, I thought, aren’t we all getting older?

But lately, as I’ve gotten to know numerous young people who are trying to get started in farming, I’ve been thinking about that demographic shift a bit more. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the average age of U.S. farmers has gone from about 50 in 1978 to a little over 57 in 2007. In just five recent years, from 2002-2007, the number of farmers age 75 or older grew by 20 percent and the number of farmers under age 25 decreased by 30 percent. This is a dramatic reordering of our landscape.

What is preventing more young people from entering this profession? Is it a perceived image of farming as mindless and boring? …a distaste for living in rural areas with fewer services and less ready-made social life? …a lack of farming recruiters on college campuses?

Let’s face it; farming has gotten a bad rap for a long time. A poor image and lack of encouragement has steered most young people away. Yet we have recently entered an agrarian renaissance of sorts. The

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