Mon., December 5, 2011 12:01am (EST)

Young Farmer Numbers Declining
By Josephine Bennett
Updated: 3 years ago

MACON, Ga.  —  
(image courtesy Georgia Young Farmers Association)
(image courtesy Georgia Young Farmers Association)
Across the country the number of young farmers is declining, including here in Georgia. Between 2002 and 2007 farmers age 25 and younger fell nearly 40-percent.

Many young people who leave their childhood farm for college do not return. Those who want to become farmers often can’t afford to get started.

Greg Gatliff with the Georgia Young Farmers Association grows cotton and peanuts in Middle Georgia. He says starting from scratch is tough because banks are reluctant to lend money and land is costly.

“Your fertilizer and seed and equipment are just astronomical for what your return is. It takes a lot of up front investment to begin farming.”

State agriculture officials say the Federal Farm Service Agency is making entry loans available to new farmers to encourage more people to choose farming as a profession.