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garrard county

USDA Grant to Enhance Sustainability of Beginning farmers and Ranchers

One of our biggest opportunities to increase employment and income in rural America is to enhance the sustainability of beginning farmers.  Many farmers are retiring, and coupled with a renewed interest in local foods is causing an increased demand on small and medium-sized farmers. Nearly 25 percent of U.S. farmers are 65 years and older.  The average age of the farm operator is 57 years.  I have noticed a shift is occurring with an increase in the number of new farm operations with many Americans interested in becoming beginning farmers and ranchers.  However, these farmers face unique challenges, including rising cost of farm land, lack of knowledge about accessing farm land and the capital to buy the land, lack of training in sustainable farming practices, a lack of operating capital in their initial years, and many need experiential learning to be successful.