America needs more farmers, but fewer young people are interested these days.
According to new data from the USDA there will be 57,900 annual job openings in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment fields between 2015 and 2020.
“It’s good news for our students and graduates,” said Mike Gaul, director of Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Nationally, there are not enough agricultural students to meet the demand.”
According to the most recent AG Census, principal operators of farms dropped more than four percent from 2007 to 2012. Add to that, new farmers operating less than five years are down more than 23 percent in the same time frame.
“The average age of farmers in Iowa is 63,” said Linda Bigley, the interim Linn County ISU Extension director.
Bigley said the problem is the current generation of farmers is getting older and older. As they retire, fewer new farmers are taking up the handle creating a void. Bigley believes one of the big reasons is high capital cost.
“There are a lot of young people who would like to get into the profession,” she said. But, because farms have gotten bigger over the years, if you look at the stats, it’s very expensive to get into farming it takes some creative arrangements to get started.”
Bigley said there are a lot of ways to cut that cost through state programmes.