Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Gather in D.C.
“Twenty-five years ago there were approximately 350,000 farmers and ranchers under the age of 35 in this country; that number has declined steadily until there is fewer than 25 percent of that number remaining today. The inclusion of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and Individual Development Account Programs in the final farm bill will be key factors in reversing the current trend,” added Steve Schwartz, Executive Director for California Farmlink.
- Beginning farmers and ranchers and organizational representatives will be available for interviews Tuesday, January 29, 2008, 8-10am EST
- National Press Club, the Fourth Estate Winner’s Room, 529 14th St. Washington, D.C. 20045
(in-person interviews can also be scheduled on January 29 and held at the United Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Ave. Washington D.C. – please contact John Crabtree, email@example.com, Center for Rural Affairs, 402-687-2103, ext 1010)
- News release and detailed summary of beginning farmer initiatives available upon request at the Center for Rural Affairs (402-687-2100) or Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (202-547-5754)
- For those outside Washington, D.C., other arrangements can be made for interviews
This event is sponsored in part by the Center for Rural Affairs, California Farmlink, Land Stewardship Project and the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Some of the farmers and ranchers participating in the fly-in include Daniel Rosmann from Harlan, IA, John Leonard from El Rino, OK, Jacob Cowgill from Missoula, MT, Brittany Whitmire from North Carolina, and David Silveira, Jesus Escavar, and Steve Schwartz from California.
New farmers and ranchers are much more diverse than previous generations. In addition to next-generation farmers from multi-generation farm and ranch families, this new generation includes former farm workers, people from non-farming backgrounds such as mid-life career-changers, and college graduates who have chosen farming as their first career. They include more women than ever before as well as families with Hispanic, Somali, Hmong, and Eastern European backgrounds.
This diverse new generation of farmers and ranchers has very different challenges and needs than previous generations. Adequate access to training, technical assistance, land, credit and markets are critical to their success, however current farm policy is clearly deficient in these areas. The future health and vitality of agriculture, the food system, and rural communities will depend on a 2008 Farm Bill that encourages this new generation to work in agriculture and manage the land is a sustainable way.