Some hope for future of farming - The Packer

Some hope for future of farming

03/08/2013 09:33:00 AM
Andy Nelson

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.

Bright spots

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?

What's your take? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.

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Margi Prueitt    
Newark, DE  |  March, 11, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Thank you for highlighting the work of PMA Foundation for Industry Talent's work to attract, develop and retain talent for the global produce industry. If our businesses are to thrive in the future, it is essential to help more young people see the benefits of a career in fresh produce. Our Career Pathways programs (five in the U.S. and one coming in Canada) do just that, with the help of industry leaders that serve as Career Ambassadors. It is also vital for companies to understand what it takes to keep people - best "people" practices are different for different generations.

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