With an aging population of farmers, it’s clear that agriculture needs to attract more young people, because half the farmers in the U.S. are 55 or older. But for much of the world’s youth, agriculture isn’t seen as being cool or attractive—only as backbreaking labor without an economic payoff and with little room for career advancement.
However, with some effort, young farmers can explore contemporary career options in permaculture design, biodynamic farming, communication technologies, forecasting, marketing, logistics, quality assurance, urban agriculture projects, food preparation, environmental sciences and advanced technologies.
“Increased access to education and new forms of agriculture-based enterprises means that young people can be a vital force for innovation in family farming, increasing incomes and well-being for both farmers and local communities,” says Mark Holderness, executive secretary of the Global Forum for Agricultural Research.
The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project (nesfp.org), in Massachusetts, trains young farmers in how to run a small farm operation, from business planning to specialized advanced workshops in livestock and healthy food. Likewise, the Southeastern New England Young Farmer Network (Young-FarmerNetwork.org) hosts free social and educational events that bring together farmers of all ages and experience levels to network and collaborate.