The Experienced Farmer

Since I talked about 45-54s yesterday I'll dig into 54+ folks today.

Obviously the age brackets I'm picking are pretty flexible, a couple 35 with no children could fit into the "Empty Nest" and a healthy 60 year old could too. At any rate it gives me somewhere to hang my ideas .

Retired New Farmers.

When I think about these "Experienced" folks I'm thinking folks very much like the Empty Nesters but with a sizable enough poke to own their place outright and have enough to cover living expenses as well. Probably these people have or will be moving to the country with an eye toward spending some Rocking Chair time.

But with the economy in the shape it is and the warnings that it might take a while to get back to where it was (which I kind of doubt will happen period) they may see or even seek relatives looking to lend a hand for room and board. Of course the owners can get around and take care of the chores they enjoy but they can also be teachers, coaches, bankers and cheerleaders for their kids and grandkids.

Now I don't know how well this might turn out. The retirement strong counties shown here are some in good ag areas but many others in not so good areas. Also if neither the Experienced owner nor the hard luck relative have any real experience growing food or fiber this might not be such a great plan.

Still, this is really the contribution we see ourselves making now and down the road, learning a little we can pass on to our kids so they can give it a shot if they want or need. Not just by having Christmas dinner and the grandkids over to Ipod in the summer but to actively encourage and sponsor them to get involved with the farm.

Just as an aside, our youngest grand daughter is quite the girly girl but received first place in her third grade science fair for an experiment to guess the ability of a soil sample to grow radishes by doing a shake test to find the soil type.

Of course this leaves out a very important person - the older old farmer:

One fourth of U.S. farmers and half of farm landlords are at least 65 years old. Farmers and landlords aged 65 and older own a combined one-third of farm assets.
--- Rural America Fall 2002

Obviously there are "experienced" farmers out there who could be convinced by their offspring to rent out a piece to give the kid a start and perhaps more kids will do that but I'm pretty sure they are probably more than willing for gramps to kick the bucket or they would already have been in there lobbying.

This is perhaps the most disheartening thing in the whole business, old Moms and Pops with a lifetime of knowledge and fruits of labor to pass along and no one who wants to accept the gift.

The one place where the government could really make a difference is to set up a program to match up willing workers intent on sweating their way to equity with older farmers wishing to see the farm continue into another generation whether its their blood or not.

This could take several forms, like crop share lease options, the dairy Share Milker idea taken into beef or farming or many I'm sure I haven't conceived.

Today's Farm News
by Pops

One size fits all’ farm policy unwise

Rural Economy In Deep Downturn

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Obama Foodorama!