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Kentucky Advocates for Youth Farming

May 24

Agricultural officials in Louisville, Kentucky are striving to increase the number of young farmers in the business, in the hopes of preventing the farm industry's overall graying and an impending demographic catastrophe that could jeopardize productivity.

The overall number of farmers in the United States has been declining for decades. While agricultural production rises as a result of technological advances, rural populations decline as more and more production is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

The profession is gradually aging as a result of these changes. The average age of the agricultural community is rising as fewer and fewer young people stay in rural villages or enter the farming industry. The average age has risen to nearly 60 years in several states.

Farm officials in Louisville, Kentucky, are aiming to reverse these trends by encouraging more young people to work in agriculture. Several non-profit organizations are attempting to re-connect young people with the land and encourage them to consider what it takes to feed their community.

"I've developed an awareness of farming, and what it takes to farm, and where our food comes from," one sixteen-year-old participant said. And realizing that is the most important thing. It's the most ideal situation."

While not all young people will want to pursue a career in agriculture, there can be great benefits to those who do. In addition to helping address the industry's demographic crisis, farm owners are trying to get farm loans and other financial assistance to help new farmers get started. Those who've shown their interest can help keep the industry afloat as the population continues to age. In addition, having a good mix of young and old farmers can help transfer knowledge between generations and prevent the loss of important information.