Number of young farmers dwindles across nationPublished 11:00pm Wednesday, May 1, 2013
The Pike County Young Farmers aren’t as young as they used to be.
James Jordan, laughingly, said that he has aged out of the Young Farmers association.
“I’ve gotten too old,” said Jordan who has been an active member of the association for several years.
Farmers “age out” of the association at age 35 but Pike County farmers are remaining active in the association because so few “young” people are staying on the family farm or have the money and resources to go into farming.
The trend is cause for concern.
Along Interstate 70 and other interstate highways in Kansas, signs proudly proclaim: “One Kansas farmer feeds 129 people and You.”
Kansas is not the only state that can make such a claim. Fewer farmers are feeding more people.
And, as the number of farmers in the United States continues to dwindle, the greater the challenge for farmers.
More than 300 million people live in the United States but less than one percent of those millions are farmers. To further cloud the farming situation, the average age of farmers continues to rise. Nearly 60 percent of the farmers in this country are over 55 years of age.
John and Carol Dorrill hosted a meeting of the Pike County Young Farmers at Clay Hill Farms. Boyd Deal, Alabama Farmers Federation Area 8 Organization Director, impressed upon the young farmers the importance of what they do for Alabama, for the country and for the world.
“Alabama’s agricultural, forestry and related industries provide 580,295 jobs for Alabamians and generate $70.4 billion for the state’s economy,” Deal said. “One in every 4.6 jobs is agriculture related. Agriculture is driving Alabama’s economy.”
Deal challenged the Young Farmers to be in the driver’s seat.
“Membership in the Young Farmers organization is important because it is a place where we can reload,” he said. “It is a training ground for young farmers. It equips young farmers with information about farming issues and programs and teaches leadership skills.”
The Pike County Young Farmers selected their officers and board members for the year.
Claire Flowers will serve as the 2013 chair of the Pike County Young Farmers Association and Heath Wesley will serve as vice chairman.
Joining Flowers and Wesley in leadership roles will be committee members Grant Lyons, and Brad Phillips. Outgoing committee members, John Deloney, Steve Stroud and Joe Murphy, will continue to serve the Young Farmers in advisory roles.