By: Nate Birt, Editor Top Producer Magazine
Young farmers are eager for agricultural opportunities but challenged by four key factors, the greatest of which is access to land, according to the new report, “Building A Future With Farmers”. The publication summarizes findings of The National Young Farmer Survey, a project of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC).
“As policymakers sit down to write our next farm bill, I hope they pay attention to these survey findings. If nothing more is done to help transition young people into American agriculture, we will be importing all our food,” Merrigan says.The report finds student loan debt is the No. 2 biggest challenge for farmers under 40. Limited access to skilled farm labor came in at No. 3, and lack of affordable health insurance rounded out the list at No. 4. The survey stems from a partnership between NYFC and Kathleen Merrigan, executive director of sustainability at George Washington University and a former U.S. deputy secretary of agriculture. Nearly 80% of the 3,500 respondents are actively farming, though survey results were not modeled to represent all young U.S. farmers.
Yet the young farmers included in the survey are resilient, entrepreneurial and diverse. Nearly 70% of respondents have degrees beyond high school, 75% didn’t grow up on a farm and 60% are women.