As climate change shifts growing zones north, officials in Canada’s sparsely populated Yukon territory are trying to lure farmers to the region with offers of free land. If they agree to abide by a few requirements, prospective farmers can get up to 160 acres.
The USDA's effort to elevate farming as a career option for veterans once they exit the military is moving into a new phase, says Military Times, as officials "unveiled ... plans to better explain and market a host of industry jobs to recently separated service members, calling it a growth area that fits nicely with the skills and training of those veterans."
The grim joke in agriculture is that, considering the cost of land and equipment, the only way to become a farmer is to be born into a farm family or marry into one. A recent USDA survey underlined the hurdle of acquiring land, finding that landlords prefer to keep ownership in the family and expect to sell a comparatively modest 21 million acres to outsiders over the next five years. "This means that only a small percentage of farmland will be available for new entrants into the farming sector," said USDA. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is considering an in-depth study of the land-access question. "We're working on that concept," he told the James Beard Foundation conference.
The Defense Department will integrate agriculture into the career training and counseling programs offered to members of the armed services as they leave the military, the administration announced.
The USDA’s new rental survey showed that access to land is increasingly becoming a barrier for beginning farmers.
“It’s no longer enough to know how to run a farm,” says Civil Eats in a story about the Grange Farm School in rural Mendocino County, California. “To be successful, farmers also need to learn how to run a business,” so there are classes on sales, marketing, accounting and regulation as well as …
In the business of agriculture, food becomes part of networking among professionals, says Civil Eats, describing how new women farmers in Wisconsin created a grassroots network through informal potluck meals.
While the average age of U.S. farmers and farm size is rising, the tale of young people returning to farm on a small scale "is more common than we think," economist Kent Olson tells the nonprofit Minnesota Post in a story that looks at two young farm couples.
"Being a farmer was the most radical vocation I could choose," says a Columbia graduate now running a sheep and garlic farm in Vermont and quoted in "The New Farmers" in Orion magazine.