An aging American farm population, the need to successfully transition land ownership from senior farmers to new industry entrants, and providing support and training for these beginning farmers, are top concerns for the future of the agriculture. That’s according to agricultural economist Ani Katchova with Ohio State University. She says “farm transitions have been identified as one of the major upcoming structural changes in agriculture that concerns policy makers.” Katchova made those comments at a public meeting earlier this month. Her research found that among U.S. farmers, 6 percent are 35 years old or younger, while 33 percent are greater than 65 years old.
As for beginning farmers, many of them are middle-aged, according to the research. Further, there were just more than 650,000 beginning farmers in 2007, and only 522,000 some in 2012, representing a 20 percent drop over the five-year period. She suggested more support and training, as well as help in acquiring access to farmland as a possible solution.