Land Access is the Top Challenge for Young Farmers, Survey Finds

 

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Last week, the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) released the results of their 2022 national survey, Building a Future with Farmers. NYFC collected responses from over 10,000 past, current, or aspiring farmers all across the country to analyze and understand farmer’s brightest hopes and biggest challenges. Out of all the issues surveyed, finding affordable land ranked as the number one challenge for young farmers. 

According to their findings, 59% of all young farmers reported finding affordable land to purchase extremely or very challenging and 45% reported finding available land to purchase extremely or very challenging. This percentage grew to 65% and 55% respectively for BIPOC farmers.

Top six issues from NYFC's survey

"It's the top reason that young people report having left agriculture. It's the primary barrier to getting started regardless of the region of the country that you're in, whether or not you identify as a first-generation farmer or a rancher. It's also regardless of age or number of years of experience in farming,” said Holly Rippon-Butler, land campaign director at NYFC.

With the average age of a U.S. farmer approaching 60 years old and nearly half of U.S. farmland slated to change hands over the next two decades, there is no better time to develop policies and solutions that support young farmers and transition our agricultural system to the next generation. To build a future with farmers, you need land for them to sink their roots into.

NYFC is working on developing these policies for the 2023 Farm Bill, the current version of which directs $428 billion in mandatory spending alone during a five-year period.

Several of the policies NYFC is recommending with regards to equitable land access include: investing federal dollars in community-led land access projects and research surrounding farmland tenure and transition, making pathways to financing more widely accessible and applicable, and prioritizing farmer ownership and keeping land at its agricultural value in farmland protection funding.

NYFC is a national grassroots advocacy organization working to shift power and change policy to equitably resource the new generation of working farmers. Join the Northern Illinois Young Farmers Coalition's listserv, a local state chapter of NYFC, to receive updates on the Farm Bill and land access work and other related events happening around northern Illinois.