In a visit earlier this month to a Maine county fair, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merigan discussed recent agricultural trends and praised the growing numbers of young women entering the agricultural profession.
For the past several years, the average age of American farmers has been on the rise (with some communities reporting average ages nearing 60). The lack of fresh faces to replace retiring farmers, combined with decades on centralization of agricultural production (caused by massive agribusinesses buying up smaller farms) has had farmers across the country worrying about the future of their profession.
Merrigan’s visit to Maine, however, stressed that internal numbers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture may suggest a reversal of these gloomy trends. According to Merrigan Maine saw a doubling of its total number of farms between 2002 and 2007, a trend that appears to be nationwide. In addition, preliminary figures show that more and more young people appear to be entering the ag industry.
While these trends can’t be confirmed until after the completion of the 2012 agricultural census (whose numbers won’t be available until 2014), Merrigan is optimistic that this is the start of a major trend.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer