What are Baby Boomer Farmers?
There are two interesting things currently happening in farming. First, there are reports that baby boomer farmers will retire and leave us with an agricultural gap. Since the Department of Agriculture shows a large percentage of the major farmers are over 75 years of age, the average age of the farmer is now well over 50 and the largest growing group of farmers is 65 or older that concern may be warranted. While there are organizations offering incentives to today’s youth many are questioning whether large scale farming is worth it.
At the same time, while the Department of Agriculture can’t quote figures, there are a growing number of baby boomers who are leaving their current positions and taking up organic farming on a smaller scale in order to add to their retirement funds. Reporter for the Daily Yonder, Laura Tillman, says that these new baby boomer farmers “can make some money.”
A number of baby boomers have taken early retirement or left their jobs to become organic farmers. These people are sending a message to the farming industry. Tillman believes that they are proving the idea of “bigger is better” may be outdated.
This new breed of baby boomer farmer might just prove that smaller is better and that current farming conglomerates are too big to be worth sustaining to the new generation. Unfortunately, the USDA admits that they have no statistics on how many baby boomers are presently supplementing their retirement funds with this small scale, organic farming because many of these new farmers are not “officially certified as organic operations”. Will the future of farming belong to larger scale operations manned by the next generation or will it be in more scaled down operations run by new baby boomer farmers? Only time will tell.
(Images courtesy of Lavidalocavore.org and Tws3d.com )