The next generation of farmers will ensure the future of agriculture.
From financial skills-building programs to educational tools that help farmers thrive, Farm Credit supports the success of young and beginning producers.
Educating Young and Beginning Farmers
Approximately 34 percent of the nation’s 3.4 million farmers and ranchers are 65 or older, according to the 2017 Ag Census. That means agriculture will see a huge transition in the next decade as farmers and ranchers turn over the reins to the next generation of new and beginning farmers.
Thankfully, the number of young farmers is trending upwards. In fact, the number of young people (under the age of 35) who are actively engaged on farm operations increased by nearly 11 percent between 2012 and 2017.
That’s why National Farmers Union (NFU) started its Beginning Farmer Institute (BFI) program to provide tomorrow’s agricultural leaders with the precise skills they will need to succeed on the farming operations they will soon run.
BFI participants receive hands-on training by experts from across the U.S. through sessions hosted in Washington, D.C., California and Washington State. The training focuses on critical skills needed by beginning farmers and ranchers, including business plan writing, financial planning and leadership development. The program also includes tours of local farms and cooperatives, and participants have many opportunities to network with successful producers.
Farm Credit has partnered with NFU from the beginning of the initiative, when it helped to create the program’s curriculum, and continues to support BFI today.
Tools for Young and Beginning Farmers
One of the most significant barriers young and beginning farmers face is access to available, affordable farmland. In 2017, the National Young Farmers Coalition (Young Farmers) surveyed more than 3,500 young farmers and ranchers across the country. They found that land access was their number one challenge, regardless of geography or whether they had grown up on a farm.
To help address these challenges, Young Farmers partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to create the Finding Farmland Course and Calculator, available in both English and Spanish.
The Finding Farmland Course is a free, online tool that young and beginning farmers and ranchers complete at their own pace. The curriculum encourages participants to ask themselves, “What are my long-term goals, and how can different types of land tenure fit into those goals?” While purchasing land may make sense for some, others may find land ownership is not their best option, or at least not when starting out.
Farm Credit is proud to support Young Farmers’ Finding Farmland Course and accompanying Finding Farmland Calculator. Chris Laughton of Farm Credit East has been involved with the creation of the Finding Farmland Calculator since the initial planning stages. He said, “Young Farmers did an admirable job taking recommendations from a diverse advisory panel into account while creating this tool. The end product is excellent and quite useful for someone relatively new to agriculture who is trying to evaluate different land tenure scenarios to see what might be best for them.”
Read the blog posts below to learn more about the ways that Farm Credit supports young and beginning farmers.