You may have noticed that every time America endures a crisis, people start getting back to the basics. Oftentimes that means farming. The Wall Street Journal’s Krithika Varagur reports on a new wave of young Americans returning to the land in the wake of the pandemic and violence in the cities. She writes:
More young Americans are joining the agriculture sector and changing what it means to work as a farmer. Only 8% of farm producers were under 35 in the 2017 USDA census, the most recent available, compared with 34% over 65. Though the workforce skews much older—their average age was 57.5 in 2017—youth representation is growing. From 2012 to 2017, the number of producers under age 35 grew 11% to about 285,000, while producers age 35-64 had shrunk by 2%. The median annual wage for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers was about $68,000 in May 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
These younger farmers often don’t have a family background in farming and are more comfortable using high-tech methods and software. And while the financial hurdles to starting a farm can be steep, and turn some off altogether, others are committed to making it work.
Young people interested in agriculture today have a range of career paths, says Benjamin Houlton, dean of Cornell University’s agricultural college. Some 8% of the college’s undergraduates go on to become “classic farmers,” he says, and about 36% end up in the agriculture industry at large.
Periods of economic crisis can often lead to a greater interest in small-scale farming, says Severine von Tscharner Fleming, founder of Greenhorns, a nonprofit for young farmers. “There’s a little bit of a cyclical pattern, and the pandemic seems similar to the 2007-09 recession, when there was also an uptick in interest from people of nonfarm backgrounds,” says Ms. von Tscharner Fleming, who lives in Pembroke, Maine. In both cases, unemployment also created a larger pool of workers who were open to giving farming a shot, she says.
“I was originally thinking about working on a farm or ranch for a short time before applying to law school, but now I like it so much that I feel like I’m going to stay here for a while,” he says. Every day is different: He helps make blueberry jam, takes care of sheep after they give birth, builds oyster cages and more.
Action Line: Keep it simple. Those words should apply to all aspects of your life. If your life needs a return to the basics, consider escaping the city. If you’re serious about making a change and need monthly motivation to help get you going, click here to sign up for my free Survive & Thrive newsletter. I’ll help you get past the inertia holding you down, but only if you’re serious.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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