A staple of North Carolina’s agricultural industry, Red Beard farm has been a part of New Hannover County’s agricultural history for generations. Today the farm is still growing fresh fruits and vegetables and serving the local community. However, Red Beard farm is unusual for North Carolina agriculture; its owner is a 25 year old college graduate.
Agricultural production is a profession that has been increasingly aging over the years. Since its peak in the 1930s, agriculture has become less labor intensive and increasingly controlled by larger and larger farms. A result of this decline in farmers has been the graying of the farm population. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture census results, over 40 percent of the farm population is over 55 years old.
USDA officials are increasingly worried about the aging population and the long-term health of the agricultural industry. Many states have begun offering loans to young farmers and tax breaks to new farmers in order to encourage more and younger people to become active in agriculture.
Morgan Milne, the new owner of Red Beard Farm, represents a new generation of American farmers. A 25 year old graduate of North Carolina State University, Milne got interested in agriculture when he got a job working on a farm when he was a high school student. While the average age of farmers is still high, people like Milne offer agricultural officials some hope that an increased visibility in local communities could help transform production in the United States and ensure the long-term health of the industry.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer