Young Farmer Shortage

The Lempert Report
November 10, 2022

Phil: Congress wants to change the fact that we're having less young farmers than ever before. A new study that was released by the National Young Farmers Coalition found that 59% of young farmers named fighting affordable land to buy as very or extremely challenging. 45% of these young farmers named finding available land to buy as very or extremely challenging. So you take the 45% with a 59%, hey, it's up in the top nineties. So if we wanna attract young farmers, we really have to do something. The average age, according to the census data of a farmer today is nearly 60 age. And that's concerning lawmakers in Washington. We've gotta get more young farmers in there. The last time the U S D A collected the data, one in four were classified as beginning farmers. That means farmers who are operating 10 years or less, and the number of young producers defined as 35 or under about 121,000. And out of the total universe of 3.4 million, that's nothing. So what is the U S D A gonna do about this to make sure that we've got a continuing food supply? Because if we don't have farmers, we don't have food. 

Sally: Exactly. And you know one of the points that, one of the things you pointed out, Phil, about the average age being almost 60, you know, these are, this is great. We have a lot of very wise and experienced farmers in our country. My grandfather was a farmer. I know you come from a family of farmers. But we want to get these young people coming up that are skilled in technology that have kind of grown up in that world because they have a lot to bring, to take to the table with agriculture. So there are a lot of programs through the U S D A where you can acquire land and you can get loans. There's a lot to sift through on that, and I don't know all of the details, but wouldn't it be cool if we could see more incentives for young farmers? Like in the same way that we see, you know, when we're helping people with student loans, we're helping military people who enroll in the military. We help them go to college, we help them buy houses. So let's do that with farmers. You know, let's have scholarships for AG schools or low interest loans when you get out of college and wanna start your own business to get to access land to do that. 

Phil: And one farmer, Adam Brown, who's the owner of BNB Farms in Illinois the House Ag Committee about the problem. And I'm gonna quote, "I think U S G A from my point of view, does a poor job educating on the programs that are out there and accessible. And with farm bills changing every several years, a lot of the times the programs go away or are new out there, we hear about them by word of mouth instead of direct farm service agency or county officials notifying us." So the US does have a lot of these programs, the farmers don't know about it. And now on August 24th, U S D A released about 300 million in available organizations that have projects to help increase access to land capital and markets. So some good news on the way, but clearly U S G A needs to be doing a better job of communication.