How many farmers do we really need?
It is personal to us, at least one of our children wants to farm.
“Beginning” and “Young” farmer may not be the same thing, many beginning farmers have already retired from a 30 plus year career in another job.
How does less farmers affect ag-businesses, farm organizations, politicians, bankers, agricultural retailers, manufacturers, etc? How more dependent on your customers does your business become when you used to have lots of small to medium sized customers, compared to the future when you will have very few, but very large customers?
Agriculture continues to do more with less, which translate into increased productivity per person.
Traditional commercial production agriculture does not need a bunch of “new” farmers. 210,000 (less than 10% of the total number of farmers) farmers produce 85% of total farm production in the United States. The other 90% have room to grow to join the 10%.
Non-traditional, such as organic, grass fed, local sourced, is one growth area for “new” farmers, but it takes a different kind of farmer than what many “new” farmers from traditional backgrounds want to do. This type of agriculture is only about 1% of total production and is generally located near large population centers. As long as people have excess money to purchase food, this type should grow in numbers.
Every farm group, political entity, agricultural journal, etc. either has a “new” program for “young” farmers or is writing about wanting more farmers. Is this concern about farmers or about the survival of themselves? Less farmers probably means less of them.