The 2012 Census of Agriculture shows some positive trends in the numbers of young people coming back to the farm.
According to a USDA summary, the number of young, beginning principal farm operators is up 11 percent since the last census in 2007.
Iowa secretary of agriculture Bill Northey says he sees the “back-to-the-farm” trend in his state. Northey says record enrollment in college ag programs also a good indicator.
“We see more students at our community colleges and at Iowa State University—in fact, record enrollment at pretty much all institutions promoting agriculture,” Northey says. “I see Morningside College up in Sioux City is starting a new ag and food program as well. And so we see some of the private colleges that are looking at adding agriculture pieces.”
The census shows 22 percent of all farmers were beginning farmers in 2012. That means one out of every five farmers operated a farm for less than 10 years.