Building Up New Farmers
“The more a farmer can care for their land, the more their land can give back.”
– Lindsey L. Shute, National Young Farmers Coalition
Farmers in America are facing a national crisis, in 25 years 2/3 of all farmland in American will transition ownership. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, however, farmers 65+ yrs. outnumber farmers <35 yrs. by a ratio of 6-to-1. The future doesn’t look as prospective either, the USDA currently estimates a deficit of 20,000 students entering agricultural studies in the next 5 years. What does this tell us? Well, farming in the United States is a dying industry, this not only makes us vulnerable in terms of export markets and job loss but also susceptible to foreign price leveraging. Now, this trend in farming is not a new thing, in fact, in 1920 the United States had a population of 106.5 million people, today that number is 327.2 million (2018). Now, as we’ve seen our population increase by about 300% in this time, we’ve seen a steady decline in farming jobs; today there are about 2.6 million farmers in America, in 1920 there were about 28 million more.
Lindsey L. Shute from the National Young Farmers Coalition states that “For generations, farm families have been sending their children away from the farm, and for good reason.” Many issues have arisen in the farming industry, issues such as Gladiatorial-Pay-Practices, environmental disasters due to climate change, racial discrimination by the USDA, farm consolidation, vertical integration, skyrocketing land prices, plummeting income due to increased importation and trade wars, etc. Needless to say, agriculture is not an attractive industry right now. According to surveys, the number one necessity for beginning farmers is capital, and the number one issue for experienced farmers is job security. While farmers consider themselves entrepreneurs, they also provide essential needs and commodities to communities across the country. It can be argued that by providing the food we eat, farmers are public servants, as well as business owners, and no the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Looking at these issues and statistics we need to create pathways in agriculture, so that people of modest means have the ability to become farmers, support themselves, and interact in a high-stakes, competitive market. As your commissioner, I will strive to promote youth work programs in Farming and Agriculture. I will also fight for new farmers, by personally helping the farmers of my district find ways to obtain capital. Government works for the people, and together we can bring back farming’s popularity and promote a more fruitful and prosperous district.