The U.S. Department of Agriculture is launching a program to bring a new generation of farmers onto the nation’s farms. Deputy U.S. Ag Secretary Krysta Harden says the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program will help train and educate new farmers and ranchers with $100-million from the new Farm Bill.
“The average age of our farmers is 58 years old. So, we need the bench,” Harden says. “We need to get folks coming into agriculture who either grew up on a farm or are thinking about coming back, but also folks who don’t know much about agriculture, but who have that drive, that passion, who want to get into farming or ranching.” The average age of a Nebraska farmer is also 58.
Part of the program’s funding will help what she calls limited-resource and socially disadvantaged beginning farmers and ranchers to get started in farming, as well as veterans.
“We’re targeting these groups of folks to give them the very special tools they may need, the uniqueness of their questions or concerns that they may have and getting into agriculture, so it’s really a target of funds to these areas,” Harden says.
The USDA says Nebraska has around 50-thousand farms, averaging 900 acres. Nebraska’s average net income per farm is just over $119,000. The state’s top five counties ranked by agricultural sales are: Cuming, Dawson, Custer, Phelps and Lincoln.