CALL TO FARMS

High rent? No health care? Young farmers: They’re just like us!

(photo) Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

A new report lays out the significant challenges facing young farmers, including student debt and a shortage of skilled labor.

There’s a growing number of young farmers in the U.S., but older farmers still outnumber their younger counterparts by a margin of 6 to 1. The National Young Farmers Coalition talked to more than 3,500 farmers under the age of 40. The resulting report makes policy recommendations for a farm bill that could better support young farmers.

Don’t want to read the 86-page report yourself? Here are the key points:

  1. Land access is the No. 1 challenge facing young farmers. Finding and affording land on a farmer’s income is tough — the average cost of farmland has more than doubled in the last decade.
  2. Young farmers are more likely than the average American to have a higher education degree. Nearly 30 percent of those surveyed say they also struggle with student debt.
  3. The future of farming is female, and a lot more diverse. Among young farmers, the representation of women, indigenous peoples, and people of color is respectively twice that of the general farming population.

Here’s the kicker: This new generation of young farmers is more likely to believe that climate change “poses a significant threat to our future,” and they’re taking steps to prioritize sustainability in their farming practices.

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