And it keeps getting harder for new farmers to afford land.
From 2011 to 2012, for instance, the per-acre value of farm real estate in the U.S. increased by 11%.
You need to buy a lot of those acres before you reach critical mass and starting earning a decent living — if you’re lucky.
But, as I said, the news from this study isn’t all doom and gloom.
“There is some evidence that younger beginning farmers experience higher returns, on average, and are less likely to experience negative returns than older farmers.”
Part of that is likely due to education. About 30% of beginning farmers have a college degree, compared to 23% of established farmers.
One produce-specific piece of good news highlighted in the report concerns the percentage of beginning farms versus established farms.
About 6% of established farms in the U.S. grow fruits, vegetables, tree nuts or other specialty crops, according to the study.
But the percentage of beginning farms growing produce is slightly higher, about 7%.
New farmers also are more likely to piggy-back on many industry trends.
About 19% of beginning farms, for instance, sold their products directly to consumers or stores, compared to 15% among established farms.
There’s hope. In fact, if my cousins’ kids all move to the city, I may encourage my city-raised sons to move to Kearney County, Nebraska, and take up farming.
Anything’s better than journalism, right?
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