In the US, of the 3,281,534 agricultural producers, there are 289,999 farmers over the age of 75 according to a USDA survey. In comparison, there are only 54,147 under the age of 25. The national average farm size is 421 acres. 86% of hog operations have over 2,000 head. 74% of all dairy operations have over 200 cows. For vegetables, 9% of all operations sold 90% of the value of vegetables.
These statistics are startling: Who will be the future of farming? Will young people find a way to break into farming as a career, given the $12,000 an acre for prime farm land? And, that’s not including any infrastructure! Opportunity exists for young farmers, especially in developing niche markets in sustainable agriculture. We want to help get young people interested in sustainable ag as a career, show them options that can be pursued, how to market products, and most importantly, where they can go after High School for more training.
Spence Farm Foundation is in the second stages of applying for a North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Professional Development grant from the USDA to train agriculture teachers in a curriculum designed to teach these components of becoming a farmer who focuses on sustainable agriculture. We are targeting universities for help. University of Illinois and Illinois State University are on board to help train in one critical area: they will teach their future High School agriculture educators in the curriculum so those future teachers can teach the curriculum to High School kids: our future farmers!
Want more information or want to be a part of this program? Call Carolynne: 815-992-3296.