CLINTON — Area officials are hoping an increased interest with young famers will assist in the future of farming.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture most recent preliminary census results, in 2012 there were 2.1 million farms in the United States , down 4.3 percent from the previous census in 2007.
In Iowa alone, there are 92,600 farms and one out of every six Iowans is directly or indirectly employed by agriculture. Of those farms, 1,300 can be found in Clinton County which accounts for approximately 390,000 acres of the county’s land.
For Iowa Farm Bureau Board member and public relations director Peter Whitman, maintaining farm land in Iowa is one thing, but increasing interest in young farmers to develop the future is a whole other idea.
“Getting into agriculture right now would be an extremely hard thing to do,” Whitman said. “For a young farmer to be able to make it they would have own roughly 1,000 acres of farm land to make it. I’ve been on the farm my whole life and I don’t think I could do it just starting out on my own right now.”
Despite the hardships that many new farmers face, Whitman and the Iowa Farm Bureau board work to educate communities on what farmers do, where their food comes from and try to encourage the next generation of farmers to step up to the farming world.
With a median age of around 58 years old, the average age of American farmers is quickly declining, and as older farm hands begin to give up the business, there are less people to take the reins.
Because of that, the Iowa Farm Bureau works to promote state and government programming that is aimed to assist new farmers as they set out into the world of agriculture.
“The nice thing is that being a young, new farmer there are all these different programs that you can get into,” Whitman said. “They’ve got low interest equipment loans, land purchase agreements, placement programs, kind of a rent-to-own programs, and stuff like that. So, as young farmers we’ve really got to step in and make sure when these old farmers retire, there is somebody to take over when they’re gone.”