USDA Offers Support to Young Farmers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering young farmers more than $18 million in grants and funding, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced at this year’s Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa.

For the past few years, farmers across the country have worried about the future of the industry and the future of their land. With urban and suburban development on the rise, many find themselves in a losing battle with local governments (who have the power of eminent domain) and can often find themselves losing hundreds of acres of valuable farmland.

In addition, the industry itself is increasingly aging. Across the country, the average age of farmers is increasing as the current agricultural population ages with fewer and fewer young people to take their place. In some states, the average age is nearly 60.

The federal government is hoping that a series of grants and funding opportunities can help reverse this greying process. In Iowa earlier this week, Secretary Vilsack announced that the Obama administration was offering $18 million to young farmers through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. This funding will offer training programs and startup grants, which the USDA hopes will make it easier for beginning farmers to enter the profession.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer