Last month, the LANDTHINK Pulse posed the following question to our audience: Should financing be more readily available to new farmers, regardless of credit rating or economic status?
Our informal online survey revealed that 56.32% of respondents think that the it should be easier for beginning farmers to put down roots in the industry. According to the USDA Census of Agriculture, in 2012, the average age of American farmers was 58, and fewer young family members are choosing to carry on the family tradition. It seems the sun is slowly beginning to set on multi-generation farms unless younger generation farmers emerge to replace the number of retiring ones. The USDA data indicated the number of beginning farmers fell 20% between 2007 to 2012. A troubling thought begs attention- who will ensure America’s food supply if young farmers don’t enter the industry?
Unless the farm was inherited, getting started in farming is a tough row to hoe. Aspiring farmers face formidable obstacles such as access to affordable land, student loan debt, and startup financing. New farmers need loans for land, operating expenses, equipment or livestock. The continuing decline in U.S farm income, triggered by slumping commodity prices, makes obtaining financing even more challenging.
Fortunately, there are loan programs for aspiring farmers and some states offer grant programs to assist young farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) helps support the future generations of farmers and ranchers. The USDA issue direct and guaranteed farm operating and farm ownership loans. Also, the Farm Credit System has a “Young, Beginning and Small Farmer” loan program.
High student loan debt impairs credit and hinders financing. Additionally, because farmers only get paid at harvest time, regular payments on student debt are difficult. To address the problem, the National Young Farmers Coalition has launched a campaign in support of the “Young Farmer Success Act”, that would amend the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to include farmers among the public service occupations eligible for federally subsidized loan forgiveness. If passed, new farmers would make 10 years of income-driven student loan payments and the balance of their federal loan debt is forgiven.
This turned out to be a relatively divided issue among our audience. The Pulse revealed that 56.32% of those responding said “YES”, financial institutions should loosen credit standards for farmers while 43.68% of our audience answered “NO”, indicating that irresponsible lending practices, given the current downturn in the farm economy, might eventually result in a taxpayer bailout.
Here are the final results:
- 56.32% said YES
- 43.68% said NO
Thank you to everyone who participated and shared the Pulse with friends and connections in the land industry.
LANDTHINK is seeking sponsors for the October LANDTHINK Pulse and months thereafter. Sponsorship of the Pulse is an excellent opportunity for land industry businesses and professionals to receive significant exposure by leveraging our entire network of web and social media sites. Pulse sponsorships are offered on a first come first serve basis and are subject to certain limitations. If your business would be interested in sponsoring next month’s October Pulse question, please contact us soon.
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Should American farmers continue to use illegal immigrants to resolve their labor issues? We’d like to know your opinion! Click here to answer the September Pulse question.
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