Over the past year or so, Beginning Farmers has helped the National Young Farmers’ Coalition (NYFC) to survey beginning farmers about their biggest barriers, and the programs that have been most helpful in overcoming them.
This past week NYFC released the survey results in a report entitled Building a Future With Farmers: Challenges Faced by Young, American Farmers and a National Strategy to Help Them Succeed.
Based on a survey of 1,000 young aspiring and beginning farmers from across the country, the report suggests that access to capital, access to land, and access to health insurance present the largest obstacles for beginners. The survey identified farm apprenticeships, local partnerships, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) as the most valuable programs for assisting beginning farmers.
According to an NYFC article summarizing the results of the report “Lack of capital was found to be the biggest challenge for beginners. Although the USDA’s Farm Service Agency offers loans to beginning farmers, current loan rules often disqualify even experienced farmers with good credit and small loans are hard to come by.” This is consistent with my own findings from interviews with beginning farmers, and the ongoing survey of www.beginningfarmers.org readers. Access to land was ranked as the second biggest barrier, which is also consistent with my own findings.
Check out the full report on Challenges Faced by Young, American Farmers and a National Strategy to Help Them Succeed.