Hello BEST-ers,

Today, I am taking a slightly different approach to the topic of
sustainable agriculture. Sustainability doesn't just refer to the
environmental effects of an industry. The industry must also be able to
sustain itself, and the current number of farmers in the United States and
their average age shows the farming industry may not be able to sustain
itself without an influx of younger farmers in greater numbers.

The USDA has noted the average age of farmers is 55, with some states
having a higher average age than that. There are three times as many
farmers over the age of 65 than farmers under the age of 35. Why is the
average age of farmers so high? There is no one to take over the farm.

Why are young people not going into farming anymore? Economically, it can
be a difficult start-up process. The USDA has been offering programs and
loans for younger farmers in order to garner more interest in the area.
They hope young people will be encouraged to build a small farm producing
food and selling local and/or organic produce. FFA has also expanded its
membership into urban and suburban areas, and hope to interest and recruit
people from outside farming communities.

With both the USDA and FFA encouraging and recruiting younger people into
farming, perhaps this area of agriculture will be able to become more
sustainable both economically and environmentally.

Happy Tuesday!