It is estimated that only 1 in 6 farmers are under the age of 35. The average age of a working farmer is estimated to be 59.5 years old. The majority of these farmers are people who have grown up on farms and have experienced the changing economy. The farmer’s position has been declining in status because many people have no interest in this field. This may be because of the higher paying jobs that are offered. With these higher paying jobs, workers have little incentive to go into this field. And while America currently is able to provide food for its people, in the near future, there will be massive food shortages as a result of the retirement of the older farmers and the lack of fresh, young workers. If more new farmers are not introduced to this field there will be a significant shortage of food. In approximately in 35 years the population will be much larger and if this issue is not resolved, there will be starvation throughout the United States of America.
However, there is a possibility that new technologies will emerge that will increase agricultural production immensely such as “smart farming” or the reliance on machines to assist in production. Additionally, the government could help new agricultural producers get started, as this is a difficult task to complete. For example, the government could lower taxes on new farm land for farmers who are just starting out, because the high cost may deter potential farmers from the beginning of their involvement in this industry. In fact, the government has created programs like the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) already. This program trains and educates young farmers and ranchers to be successful in the field of agriculture. The goal of the program is to “enhance food security by providing beginning farmer and rancher producers and their families in the U.S. with the knowledge, skills and tools needed to make informed decisions for their operations, and enhance their sustainability.” Also, the government offers grants to help start up young farmers because this job is essential for our country’s success.
Another solution is to simply introduce the younger generation to farming. It may be that they just do not have proper exposure to the benefits of agriculture. With summer programs and classes related to agriculture, this will be more likely. For instance, schools should offer classes pertaining to this field like farming technology, to interest students to pursing this job career. Summer programs like the Governor’s School of Agriculture at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University can also introduce this field to our youth in America. Residents of the United States of America are encouraged to help come up with ways to establish a connection between the children of America and agriculture. If any of our readers are able to think of ways to do this, please leave a comment below.
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Written by: Lily Buysse, Sarah Acolatse