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