Statistics seem to suggest that America’s farmers are aging.
The average age of American farmers is 57 and the fastest growing group of farm operators are farmers age 65 and over.
USDA numbers show a 20% drop in farmers under the age of 25, and we talked to a young Brazos Valley farmer about the challenges young farmers face when they begin their operations.
“The biggest challenge for being a young farmer is number one you’ve gotta first get the land, and you gotta be patient, and I’ve luckily been very fortunate to know some good people who put some good words for me.”
Aaron Martinka farms cotton from Robertson County all the way north into McLennan County.
“Any capital that’s there goes to putting the crop in and as a young farmer it’s also hard because what capital you do have as you pick up land, you have to put that capital into the new land. So you typically would beg borrow or lease the equipment to farm that first piece of ground.”
The capital requirements for farming can give a young farmer sticker shock.
“When I was younger I used to think ten thousand dollars was a lot of money, and now in the farming business it’s, you write that check all the time. There’s a lot of money that goes in one pocket but there’s a lot of money that goes out the other pocket.”
There’s a lot more to farming than most consumers realize.
“Contrary to everybody’s belief farming is a very dynamic business. You always have to stay up top on the new technology in both the seeds, the genetics, the hybrids, the technology. It’s always evolving.”
And of course we had to ask Aaron why he chose to be a farmer.
“I guess I went into farming because farming’s in my blood. If I went out and took a job, I’d always want to come back. They’re talking about his drought going to 2020, you wonder, maybe, should I have gotten into it, but I always know if I wasn’t in it, I’d want to be in it. Every year you’ve got a new opportunity, new hope, for the next year. We just came off of a bad season, you look forward to next year thinking, hoping it’s going to be better.”
I’m Shel Winkley, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.