Local Farming Linked to Rise of Young Farmers

A recent study indicating that the number of small farms in the United States is on the rise may also indicate a significant increase in the number of young farmers entering the agricultural profession.

For the past several years, farmers across the country have been observing agricultural demographics with increasing worry. The average age of American farmers has been steadily rising (reaching 60 in some states) and the number of young farmers entering the profession has been dwindling. These figures could potentially lead to a catastrophic collapse in production when older farmers reach retirement age and have no one to replace them.

The increasing emphasis on local production and sustainable agriculture, however, in conjunction with aggressive efforts by the federal government to offer grants and funding to young farmers, may help reverse this graying trend.

According to Tennessee based Gaining Ground, a non-profit organization dedicated to offering locally grown organic meat and produce to southeastern Tennessee, young people are uniquely drawn to community based agricultural production.

Jeff Pfitzer, the executive director of Gaining Ground, recently stated, “We’re hearing a great deal of enthusiasm among these young farmers to be able to participate in bettering the health of their community. The whole local-food movement is a passion-filled and heartfelt movement for those involved. Getting involved in farming is a powerful way to be part of that and make a difference.”

While the numbers can’t be verified until the release of the next USDA agricultural census, many ag officials believe that they will see an uptick in the number of young farmers.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer