Many farmers are on the brink of retirement. The average age of a farmer in the U.S. is approaching sixty, but there are few young people ready to step in.
Greenberg: “Farmers over 65 outnumber farmers under 35 by six to one.”
That’s Kate Greenberg of the National Young Farmers Coalition. She says land access and cost are barriers for new farmers. And now climate change is making the financial risks even greater.
For example, when hay prices spiked last year because of extreme weather …
Greenberg: “… a lot of ranchers were up against the question of what to do with their herd. Can I afford to feed my herd? And if I can’t afford my herd, what do I do with my business?”
For farmers who are just getting started, these types of questions are especially difficult.
Greenberg: “They haven’t had decades or even generations of business to build their reserves – their capital reserves. And so when you get these natural disasters, you don’t have a buffer as a young farmer, which means that a single event could potentially put young people out of business.”
So to ease the burden, the Young Farmers Coalition advocates for climate action, champions policies that make land more affordable, and connects young people to federal programs that can help farmers.
Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.