Due to high costs of management and competition with corporations, the small farm could soon become an American relic.
But not if FarmLink has anything to say about it. Through funding and resources, this group is connecting generations of farmers to ensure that these modest-sized plots of land don’t go by the wayside.
Currently, the age of the average farmer is 58 years old, and 19 percent of farms are operated by people around 65 years of age. Additionally, there are very few young farmers taking the place of retiring ones. In fact, only six percent of farmers are under the age of 35, and since 2007, the number of new farmers dropped by 20 percent.
Most of these numbers can be attributed to the lack of land access and money, which makes entering the business difficult.
So FarmLink decided to step in. The group has multiple chapters across the country that connect experienced farmers with young novices. These older farmers pass on knowledge and expertise and in some cases, the actual farms themselves.
The group’s website offers a range of practical tips and a guidebook to help owners create succession plans. Most importantly, FarmLink is helping to sprout the next generation of farmers. Carol Ptak and her husband own Blacksmith Ranch in Rochester, Wash., which they’re looking to sell because of Ptak’s husband’s medical condition.
They hadn’t had much luck until they contacted the Washington FarmLink chapter who helped put their ranch on the map. “They have provided the opportunity to get the word out about our farm to a different audience,” Ptak tells Yes! Magazine.
And the Ptaks are just one example. With so much history imbedded into these farms, it’s about time someone started preserving their future.
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