According to the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture, the average age of the US farmer is 58 years old. Also in 2012, the last time the census was completed, there were fewer new farmers. You can expect this trend to continue when the 2017 data is released in February of next year as costs to run a farm continue to go up, markets continue to go down, and trade wars wreak potential havoc on relationships that took decades to build.
Deidra Gottbrath is a beginning farmer from Washington County. She says it was scary to get started even before the tariffs.
Gottbrath says she’s very lucky that she has a partnership agreement with her dad and is able to use some of his equipment and resources. Even with that assistance, her input costs are still running high.
“For someone who is truly going into it by themselves, solely purchasing all their equipment, or leasing all their equipment, and doing start to finish, top to bottom, all their own expenses, I really feel like there’s just not a true chance for someone to survive a market like this.”
So, how does Gottbrath keep her farm operation going under these conditions?
“I work off the farm full time and I thank God every day that I have that opportunity to have an income that supports my farming interests. I can use that to pay my household bills and then I just have to figure out can I make enough to make my land payments and my input costs.”
Fortunately for young and beginning farmers, USDA and the Farm Credit system have programs that can help overcome these obstacles.
Information from Farm Credit Mid-America for young and beginning farmers can be found here.