About six months ago the USDA prioritized 5.6 billion dollars to new farmers and ranchers. They also implemented a new web tool available at www.usda.gov/newfarmers. The USDA feels it is important to provide new farmers with programs and resources to help them get started because of the rapidly aging farming community. “The average age of American farmers now exceeds 58 years, and data shows that almost 10 percent of farmland in the continental United States will change hand in the next five years,” states a USDA release made in October of last year. The farming community is in high demand of young hands willing to work in Agriculture. Over the next five years nearly 60,000 job openings are expected annually, while only about 35,000 graduates are expected to be available to fill them. Hence, the USDA is prioritizing a decent chunk of money to get new farmers the resources and help they need. The web tool also helps combat this job-gap by creating outreach activities that are intended to increase beginning farmer and rancher participation by 6.6 percent. Some of these activities include:
- Starting or expanding an operation
- Developing new markets
- Supporting more effective farming and conservation practices
- Having access to relevant training and education opportunities
These activities will be updated quarterly along with the USDA’s progress on meeting it’s 6.6% increase goal. Benchmarks and outcomes are available at BFR-Commitment-Factsheet.