Two great articles highlight the pressing need to invest in beginning farmers (to read the full articles click on the titles):
Rebuilding the Good Food Supply by Supporting New Farmers - By Susan Prolman, executive director of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) for Maria Rodale’s Farm Country Kitchen BlogEXCERPT: Is there hope? Yes. There is a growing movement of people inspired to start sustainable farms. More schools are teaching students about sustainable agriculture, and more young people see producing healthy food as a way to contribute and be of value. There is more diversity among young people seeking to enter farming, including more women and more members of recent immigrant families. NSAC is working to break down barriers to entry for these beginning farmers. What are obstacles for new farmers? It’s expensive to buy land and equipment. Many young people who have apprenticed on sustainable farms simply don’t have the capital to start their own. Some of these folks are new to farming, or farming skipped a generation in their families, so they need to build knowledge to take on the challenging job of running a farm.
Open Forum: Invest in the Next Generation of Farmers - By Rebecca King from the San Francisco ChronicleEXCERPT: Participants in IDA programs designed to start up small enterprises across various business categories are 84 percent more likely to become profitable business owners than those who have not participated. Funding such entrepreneurial programs means the cost of other line items, like unemployment benefits, goes down as well. The Farm Bill created the first ever IDA program specifically for farmers, called the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Account Program. Unfortunately, Congress did not appropriate funds for the program in last year's budget. We can start fresh right now for the 2011 fiscal year.