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Thread: Young Farmers Find Huge Obstacles to Getting Started

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    Young Farmers Find Huge Obstacles to Getting Started




    Emily Oakley, who had worked on an organic farm in California, moved with her husband, Mike Appel, to Oaks, Okla., in pursuit of cheap farmland. But even though they had $25,000 saved, the couple could not get a bank loan. When they applied for a government loan, the loan officer threw back his head and laughed.


    “He’d never met anybody coming in for a loan for an organic vegetable production,” Ms. Oakley said. “He thought, ‘These are young, naïve, romantic, idealistic kids who didn’t know what they’re getting themselves into.’ ”

    Similar stories prompted the National Young Farmers’ Coalition, a new group that has grown out of the Hudson Valley in New York, to survey more than 1,000 young farmers nationwide in an effort to identify the pitfalls that are keeping a new generation of Americans from going into agriculture.

    “Everyone wants young farmers to succeed — we all know that,” said Lindsey Lusher Shute, who oversaw the survey. “But no one was addressing this big elephant in the room, which was capital and land access.”

    Ms. Shute’s husband, Benjamin, runs Hearty Roots Community Farm in the Hudson Valley, which delivers seasonal produce to 500 families. Ms. Shute said she hoped that the survey results, released on Wednesday, would demonstrate to the United States Department of Agriculture and to Congress that young farmers, although passionate, have needs that must be addressed.

    The obstacles are formidable. At Quincy Farm in upstate New York, Luke Deikis and Cara Fraver say they are living their dream, harvesting cabbage, sweet potatoes and carrots on a 49-acre property on the Hudson River. Still, even after three years of farming, Ms. Fraver, 30, waits tables, and Mr. Deikis, 31, moonlights as an engineer in the film industry, occasionally driving three and a half hours to Manhattan to pay the bills.

    Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, appears to have championed their cause. The 2008 Farm Bill included a program for beginning farmers and ranchers, and over the past year, the Agriculture Department has allotted $18 million to universities and extension programs to educate beginning farmers.

    Speaking at the annual national convention of the F.F.A., or Future Farmers of America, in Indianapolis last month, Mr. Vilsack said: “The future of agriculture is bright and will present the next generation with incredible opportunities to pursue. Young people should continue to engage in policy that affects them, but they shouldn’t be limited by it.”

    Mr. Vilsack has often noted that the average age of the American farmer is 57, and that that age is rising. He has said he hopes a younger generation will emerge, not only to replace retiring farmers, but also to reinvigorate rural areas. Last spring, his deputy, Kathleen A. Merrigan, toured colleges and cities to encourage young people to farm.

    Six miles outside of Knoxville, Iowa, Ethan Book, 31, chose to raise livestock, as his family did 60 years ago. A former youth pastor, Mr. Book became a farmer because he had high cholesterol and had read that pasture-raised meat was healthier to eat. “In my mind,” he said, “our animals are doing what they were created to do, eating the way they were created to eat.”

    Although Mr. Book does not regret his decision to farm, he discourages others from entering the business. “It’s going to tear you down financially, even if you make no mistakes,” he says.

    Data from the Agriculture Department support his warning — only 22 percent of beginning farmers turn a profit their first year. The National Young Farmers’ Coalition found that 73 percent of young farmers must work away from the farm; Mr. Book, a father of four, works 40 hours a week at a farm store.

    When he looks out the back window of his small farmhouse, he sees a 3,000-acre corporate farm and machinery worth four or five times as much as his operation. “People are demanding cheap food, they’re demanding a lot of it — corn for fuel, soy for diesel,” Mr. Book said. “It does have an impact on us in the sense that we’ve seen land prices skyrocket in Iowa. It does make it difficult for a beginner to get into the game.”

    From 2000 to 2010, the price of farmland doubled nationwide, to $2,140 per acre from $1,090. For Mr. Deikis and Ms. Fraver, buying property required creativity and research. In 2007, they were tending their garden on Quincy Street in Brooklyn when they decided to become farmers. First they met with landowners through a land link program that pairs agricultural landowners with farmers to pass along land, but the land that appealed to them was too expensive.

    While they continued their search, they apprenticed on established farms, which they realized later was crucial for their success. Seventy-four percent of respondents to the National Young Farmers’ Coalition said that apprenticeships — unsanctioned in many states — are the most important programs for beginning farmers.

    When Mr. Deikis and Ms. Fraver found a scenic spot for sale on the Hudson, across the river from where the Battles of Saratoga were fought, they conjured a plan with two conservation groups to create an agricultural easement on the property, which lowered its value. The couple closed on the farm in April.

    “We are in a wonderful spot in rural America, even if there aren’t hip bars with good beer on tap,” Mr. Deikis said.

    Ms. Oakley said young farmers rarely discussed that lack of community, adding that she had seen the isolation break up marriages. At their Three Springs Farm, she and her husband, both 34, grossed $60,000 by their third season — a reason to celebrate by most standards — but they wished they had more company.

    “It was just the two of us, every job we did together,” Ms. Oakley said. “It’s intense. We would gladly trade a little competition for more community and collaboration.”
    Source http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/us....html?_r=2&hpw

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    This is disheartening, my girlfriend and I are in the planning and money saving stage on our way to look for a nice piece of land to homestead and make some small profit. One of my dreams is to live on the land as self sufficiently as I possibly can, as far away from society and the multiculturalist bs that is destroying my country. It seems that it's going to be a much harder road than I'd like, but I'm not going to give up.

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    Farming will not you turn a profit; it doesn't work that way anymore. The only way you can ever turn a profit is if you have access to huge amounts of farm land.

    Now if you're willing to live off what you grow and work part time, that's something else entirely.

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    Senior Member twiggie's Avatar
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    I don't mean to make a huge profit or anything. My plan is to grow most of what I eat and sell the excess, cultivate heirloom vegetables and sell transplants, have a small nursery to cultivate clones of fruit trees, raise sheep for wool and meat, raise rabbits and hens for meat. I have what I think is a solid plan my biggest problem is going to be finding the cash for enough land to make it real.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twiggie View Post
    I don't mean to make a huge profit or anything. My plan is to grow most of what I eat and sell the excess, cultivate heirloom vegetables and sell transplants, have a small nursery to cultivate clones of fruit trees, raise sheep for wool and meat, raise rabbits and hens for meat. I have what I think is a solid plan my biggest problem is going to be finding the cash for enough land to make it real.
    The United States Federal government DO NOT want organic farms to be profitable because it is a direct threat to their "Forced Collectivization" scheme.

    Yes you heard right, for all the lip service they and the FDA are actively trying to find ways to sink the Organic Foods markets, primarily because they in the FDA have more to gain from food they can TAX and regulate.

    I would say the best option is to became part of, or form for yourself an Intentional Community. Which is basically small community of people dedicated to self sufficiency. If you go it alone then you run the risk of becoming involved in a "Ruby Ridge" or "Waco" type incident and ending up on the wrong side of the Police State.

    Also with Permaculture the size of the land per person can be reduced considerably, and with an Intentional community you can pool your money with other people.

    One of the more Realistic surveys of the current situation in the West would be from the book The Ecotechnic Future where he more or less describes a slow but definite degeneration of the Petroleum Powered western countries, and ends in a more or less sustainable situation.

    That being said the Corporate Farms are going to be around until they are no longer profitable, and until they do not have the massive support of government, industry and the military.

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    I come from a farming family - ancestors were farmers, dad was a farm labourer.

    I'd have liked to farm myself and trained in some areas related to agriculture. But I haven't been able to do anything for the same reasons as these - very high land prices, extremely high rural property prices, lack of land available at a low rent and lack of capital to get started.

    It's funny, people will moan about the sad lack of young farmers and the ageing of the countryside whilst nobody does anything about it.
    Rich snobs from the towns and cities come with their ill gotten wealth and buy up all the property, out-pricing the people whose families have been here for generations.

    Even once you do have land you have two options in England - be at the mercy of the supermarkets or try to go it alone with a farm shop or selling at markets or a bit of both.

    But there were no jobs when I left education, I may as well have gone straight to work - I may have gotten a job had I gone straight into work whilst the economy was still OK.
    So I basically replied to an add for help wanted on a farm (I din't want to go on the dole) and now find myself as a labourer for a few farms - nothing much changes I suppose.

    Modern farming is far removed from the idyllic farming of old we all picture, modern farming is almost like working the countryside as if it were a factory.


    I don't hold out much hope of ever being able to have a farm as a business, but in the future when I've saved some money I may be able to purchase some land and turn it over to crops and livestock for my own and my family's consumption, with surplus being sold at the gate I think.
    I have a belief that everyone should attempt to be to some degree self-sufficient, even if you just have a vegetable patch in a garden.

    One thing I can't stand though is well-off snobs from the cities buying up all the land and doing nothing with it apart from keeping a few chickens and calling that "self sufficiency" or a smallholding. They're part of the problem.

    I live in Northern England anyway - the poorer part. Land is by no means cheap, but is much cheaper than in the South.
    Americans don't know how lucky they are, I suspect land is expensive there too, but there's still plenty of it and plenty of cheap land if you look around.

    This is disheartening, my girlfriend and I are in the planning and money saving stage on our way to look for a nice piece of land to homestead and make some small profit. One of my dreams is to live on the land as self sufficiently as I possibly can, as far away from society and the multiculturalist bs that is destroying my country. It seems that it's going to be a much harder road than I'd like, but I'm not going to give up.
    Good for you! I personally like the idea of racially aware white folks moving to rural locations and living a wholesome and fulfilling life on the land as their ancestors did.
    OK, not everyone can make a living from it today with globalisation and all, but even if you work and just cultivated some ground on a non-commercial basis it is still good - good for nature, for you and you provide yourself with a degree of food security.

    The farmer I currently work for is starting to turn me against the idea of modern commercial agriculture, he's constantly rushing around and struggling - he has no down time at all hardly.
    In farming you can expect for times to be busy, but he is basically a slave to the supermarkets.

    Farming will not you turn a profit; it doesn't work that way anymore. The only way you can ever turn a profit is if you have access to huge amounts of farm land.

    Now if you're willing to live off what you grow and work part time, that's something else entirely.
    Yes, to make a profit or decent living you must do as the other modern farmers do and that isn't what farming should be about.

    I don't mean to make a huge profit or anything. My plan is to grow most of what I eat and sell the excess, cultivate heirloom vegetables and sell transplants, have a small nursery to cultivate clones of fruit trees, raise sheep for wool and meat, raise rabbits and hens for meat. I have what I think is a solid plan my biggest problem is going to be finding the cash for enough land to make it real.
    Yeah, its a good idea. It's a shame a lot of us preservationist "back to the land" folk don't live close to each other, then we could probably chip in a bit to buy a few acres and subdivide it or share it communally.

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    Senior Member Uwe Jens Lornsen's Avatar
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    Farming in Denmark

    Some Data about Farming in Denmark I came across at a German website :

    Average Size of a Farm in Hectares :
    Year 2005 : 52
    Today : 76

    Average number of held pigs at a Pig Farm :
    Year 2005 : 201
    Today : 383

    Average number of held milk cows at a Dairy Farm :
    Year 2005 : 85
    Today : 200

    Average debt of a Danish Farm in Euro € : 3,350,000
    This would roughly mean , that each hectar is worth almost €50,000 ,
    and that the Danish farmers are maxed out in their debts .

    At an interest rate of 2% , the loaning of €3,5 Million would cost 70'000 anually in interests ,
    without pay-off rates .

    Wheat is harvested between 6-9 tons a hectar , and at a price of €150/t would
    count
    6*150 = 900 × 70 hectares = 63'000
    9*150 = 1350×70 hectares = 94'500 of income .

    Jedes dieser Unternehmen stehe im Schnitt mit 3,35 Mio Euro „in der Kreide“. Die Behörde gibt allerdings zu bedenken, dass die Agrarbetriebe heute deutlich größer und wirtschaftlich belastbarer seien als zu Beginn des Betrachtungszeitraums.
    Topagrar.com - Lesen Sie mehr auf:
    https://www.topagrar.com/news/Home-t...-10068624.html
    Mk 10:18 What do you call me a good master, no-one is good .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Uwe Jens Lornsen View Post
    Some Data about Farming in Denmark I came across at a German website :

    Average Size of a Farm in Hectares :
    Year 2005 : 52
    Today : 76

    Average number of held pigs at a Pig Farm :
    Year 2005 : 201
    Today : 383

    Average number of held milk cows at a Dairy Farm :
    Year 2005 : 85
    Today : 200

    Average debt of a Danish Farm in Euro € : 3,350,000
    This would roughly mean , that each hectar is worth almost €50,000 ,
    and that the Danish farmers are maxed out in their debts .

    At an interest rate of 2% , the loaning of €3,5 Million would cost 70'000 anually in interests ,
    without pay-off rates .

    Wheat is harvested between 6-9 tons a hectar , and at a price of €150/t would
    count
    6*150 = 900 × 70 hectares = 63'000
    9*150 = 1350×70 hectares = 94'500 of income .


    Topagrar.com - Lesen Sie mehr auf:
    https://www.topagrar.com/news/Home-t...-10068624.html
    EU has killed farming in North Europe. Here climate, conditions and growing periods are so different vs Southern Europe. Smaller farms simply can not survive here anymore (thanks to EU). That's why the size of farms have increased (and numbers of farms decreased a lot!). I know this well ... my Finnish Swedes grandparents were still farmers ... both of my parents have office works and farming has been just a hobby to them. We could never ever survive with farming alone ...now in EU era.

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