According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the number of farmers under the age of 35 has increased 2.2 percent between 2007-2012; and accordingby National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC),the majority of farmers did not come from an agricultural family.
Morgan Norris, a member of the Florida Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Leadership Group, said she is hopeful that the trend will continue to rise.
Programs like Florida Farm Bureau’s YF&R programs, help to foster the growth seen within agriculture. The program focuses on young adults, ages 18 to 35, interested in or involved in agriculture.
“I think young people see the importance of agriculture and the importance of food security. They are either going back to the family farm or even starting new, first-generation farms,” Norris said. “I think it’s a great trend and hopefully, one that will continue and the number of farmers will continue to rise.”
(NYFC) reports young farmers are selling directly to consumers in order to capitalize on the increasing demand for local food. Norris noted that young mothers especially are concerned about the quality and safety of food for their families.
“I think now, more than ever, consumers want to know where their food is coming from. They want to feel like their food is safe and what better way than to start growing or raising for yourself,” Norris said. “I definitely think the local food movement will contribute to those numbers rising.”
According to NYFC, the number one challenge farmers face is the access to land. Norris said she encourages aspiring farmers to take the leap despite the challenges they may face.
“I think getting involved in agriculture means they need to be prepared to work hard, but the industry is here to stay. People always need to eat; people always need to wear clothes.” Norris said. “As the population continues to grow, we need more young people joining this incredible industry.”
Readconducted by the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC).