Young Farmers Entering the Industry Faced with Growing Challenges

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The average age of farmers in the United States, according to the 2022 Census of Agriculture, is 58.1 years old, with 40 percent of all US farmers being above 65 years old. At the same time, the 2022 census found a 7 percent increase in young farmers under 44 years old, with the largest jump being in producers under 25 years old.

For young farmers looking to get started in the agriculture industry, high-interest rates and land values are just some of the hurdles they are faced with. Midwest Banks Ken Quinn says for these young farmers, these high rates can be debilitating.

“Everything’s kind of working against young farmers getting started and young farmers that have that have gotten started here maybe in the last four or five years that hadn’t seen high-interest rates, it’s kind of gets to be a little disabling when you see that interest bill at the end of the year on your operating money.”

With high prices, many young farmers are turning to off-farm jobs on top of farming. Warren-Henderson Farm Bureau President Jake Armstrong adds this strategy not only benefits the farmer but also rural America.

“If you want to come home and farm you better have a construction business or be an electrician or be a carpenter, or an accountant or have some other skills that can bring value to the farm while you work your way in while you buy in while you transition with your family,” says Armstrong. However, that looks like that farm. You’ve got to bring value to rural America that is desperately needed because our tradesmen are retiring.”

Armstrong adds that as rural America continues to face these high-interest rates, retiring and moving workforce, young farmers are going to need to fill both roles.

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