Today is National Farmer’s Day.
There is a campaign to encourage us to “Thank a Farmer” --- not so easy for most of us.
I am fortunate, I live in a city which has both seasonal and year round local farmer’s markets. I can regularly buy my food from the families who grow it. But for most Americans their food comes from miles, countries and continents away.
According to the USDA census of agriculture the age of the principal operator of our farms is above 60 years old and lots of farmers are nearing retirement. This has been called a crisis on one hand and an overreaction to the demographics on the other. Even if the truth is that farmers are aging right along with the general population: that means that there are more reaching retirement age each day.
The new generation of young farmers will have to be bold and embrace innovation to help build sustainability into our often insecure food system. There have been so many innovations in farming, that allow for more food to be grown on smaller plots and hydroponics to be grown fully indoors
There are still many obstacles to getting a foothold in farming due to lack of land access, lack of capital, and inadequate government support.
In an article for Rodales Organic Life Adrian White outlined several we can ways to help young farmers and aid small, local farms to thrive.
“Farmer Shanti Sellz, 34 and operator of Muddy Miss Farms near Iowa City, Iowa, states: “One of the most challenging things setting up my farming business was accessing capital, and accessing land…and being a first-generation farmer with no inherited resources.”
She gratefully acknowledges retiring farmers who transition their farms outside the family. “These folks also understand that this next generation of farmers may not be their kids or their family.”
Whether new to the land or soon to retire - Young or Old - if you are lucky enough to live near a farm or farmer’s market “Thank a Farmer” today and everyday!