Uncomfortable Conversation

Uncomfortable Conversation

Let’s have an uncomfortable conversation. If you’ve ever set foot on a farm, have you ever noticed that the farmer is old, and I mean really old? Let’s look at some statistics. In the US, 1/3 of farmers are over the age of 65. Another 1/3 are between the ages of 55 and 65. Farmers die with their boots on. Given these farmers are mostly male, the CDC has their life expectancy at 75. Think about it. In 10 years, 1/3 of the farmers in the US will be gone. In 20 years (think back to 2004), 2/3 of the farmers in the US will be gone.

I think the USDA is doing us a disservice by presenting statistics that really don’t tell the whole story. In the year 2022, the farmer’s average age was 58 years old. If you plot the average age, there is obviously a small increase from year to year. It doesn’t look that troublesome until you realize, there are 38 years between a 58-year-old and a 20-year-old and only 17 years between the 58-year-old and 75-year-old. For every 20-year-old who becomes a farmer, over two leave the profession.

Recently I asked my brother who’s going to farm his ground when he retires. He had no idea. I asked him how many farmers he knew in his county under the age of 35. He could only count 5. The county he lives in has around 400,000 tillable acres. What’s going to happen in 20 years? Do you really expect each of these 5 are capable of running an 80,000-acre farming operation?

I am convinced the biggest problem in agriculture today is our inability to create new farmers. The way the system is setup, it is impossible to start farming, that is, unless you grew up in a farming family. Why not change that? Every young kid that aspires to be a farmer deserves a chance to earn that title.


– Craig






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