New farmers face many challenges. It is vital that this new generation be supported through these challenges since a high percentage of farmers will be retiring soon. According to many experts, the two greatest challenges young farmers face today are acquiring land and coming up with much-needed capital but there are other challenges, as well. These include developing a business plan, finding peers who they can relate to, and forging relationships with experienced farmers willing to mentor them.
Farmers will tell you that access to capital and credit are huge issues young farmers face. Today, bankers are less willing to extend credit and money is tight. This doesn’t mean that young farmers aren’t optimistic, though. In fact, over 90 percent of young farmers say they are better off than they were five years ago and they are hopeful about the future.
There are many private and government agencies willing to offer free help to young farmers having trouble coming up with a business plan for their farm. Many universities offer free business plan services for farmers and some even have advisors on staff that will collaborate with them. The USDA and the National Agricultural Information Service offers similar services, and a simple online search uncovers many others.
Social media sites are helping young farmers connect with one another in ways never before possible. If trouble arises on the farm, young farmers can post about it on Facebook or Twitter and the responses are almost immediate. Online blogs are interesting ways to catch up on the latest farming news and are an entertaining way to keep informed.
When it comes to finding an experienced farmer that will mentor a young farmer, there are several organizations working hard to make sure young farmers have access to the wisdom and advice of more experienced ones. Most of these mentors struggled early on in their farming career and want to give back to young farmers who may be having a hard time, as well.
The importance of these mentoring relationships cannot be underestimated. In the past, young people learned at the feet of their parents and then took over the family farm. This is no longer the case so it is imperative that experienced farmers pass on their knowledge to non-relatives. Only in this way can a new generation of farmers benefit from their experience.
So while some difficulties such as land acquisition, cash flow, and credit issues, will probably never be completely resolved, others problems have some creative solutions. This creativity is breeding a whole new generation of farmers who have a lot of people to lean on to make a go of it in the agriculture industry.