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Report Highlights Needs of Young Farmers
A new report released by the National Young Farmers’ Coalition reveals some of the top barriers facing young and beginning farmers in the U.S. today. Building a Future with Farmers: Challenges Faced by Young, American Farmers and a National Strategy to Help Them Succeed includes results from 1,000 young farmers across the country who were surveyed in order to identify specific challenges and most useful resources confronting those who want to farm.
Access to capital, access to land and access to health insurance were among the top obstacles reported by beginning farmers who took part in the survey. Apprenticeships, local partnerships and community supported agriculture were cited as the most valuable programs for beginners.
“Everyone wants young farmers to succeed—we all know that,” said Lindsey Lusher Shute, director of the National Young Farmers’ Coalition, who oversaw the survey. “But no one was addressing this big elephant in the room, which was capital and land access.”
Some of the report findings include:
- 78 percent of farmers ranked lack of capital as a top challenge for beginners, with another 40 percent ranking access to credit as the biggest challenge.
- 68 percent of farmers ranked land access as the biggest challenge faced by beginners.
- 70 percent of farmers under 30 rented land, as compared to 37 percent of farmers over 30.
- 74 percent of farmers ranked apprenticeships as among the most valuable programs for beginners.
Although some of the barriers that new farmers face are typical of starting any new business, farming still remains a unique business in many ways. For example, land is an absolute necessity for anyone wishing to farm for a living, and is almost impossible to access in some parts of the country unless handed down from one generation to the next. In addition, development pressure on rural and peri-urban farmland coupled with the current high commodity prices has caused the price of land to skyrocket in many areas of the country. Not only are new and aspiring farmers finding scarce farmland available for sale, but those parcels that are on the market often command a price tag that is out of reach to many young farmers who lack the start-up capital to buy land outright.
The National Young Farmers’ Coalition hopes that these survey results will be used by U.S. Department of Agriculture and federal policymakers to make policy changes and support programs that serve young and beginning farmers. The barriers presented in this study do much to highlight the need for many critical farm programs that currently exist to help beginning farmers and ranchers get started in farming, such as:
- FSA federal loan programs, such as the Down Payment Loan Program, or Direct Farm Ownership Loans, which both set aside federal dollars to help young farmers afford to purchase farm or ranchland
- Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which provides grants to community organizations in order to train and conduct outreach with beginning farmers
- Value Added Producer Grants, which help beginning farmers establish profitable value added business enterprises
- Transition Incentives Program, which increases beginning farmers’ ability to access land that is coming out of the Conservation Reserve Program
These important federal programs have provided assistance to thousands of farmers and ranchers over the years, and are considered to be some of the most successful programs targeted directly to those who wish to enter farming.
New Beginning Farmer Bill in Congress
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011, a comprehensive piece of legislation that was recently introduced in Congress, supports reauthorization and adequate funding for all of these programs, and many others that play a pivotal role in supporting the next generation of farmers and ranchers. National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and its allies such as the National Young Farmers’ Coalition, will continue to advocate for the inclusion of beginning farmer programs and policies in the upcoming farm bill.
Check here to see if your representative or senators are co-sponsors of the beginning farmer bill.
To read the full report published by the National Young Farmers’ Coalition, click here.
To learn more about the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, click here.
For more information, click here.
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Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.
Last week we received positive news on the border wall's imminent construction in an Arizona wildlife refuge. The Trump administration delayed construction of the wall through about 60 miles of federal wildlife preserves.