Whether they were farmers, folks who grew up on their parents’ farm, families who like to eat farm-fresh food, or just fans of good ol’ country music, Farm Aid 2012 brought 29,000 people together last Saturday in Hershey, Pennsylvania in support of family farmers. Since its first concert in 1985, Farm Aid has raised $40 million dollars to promote a “strong and resilient family farm system of agriculture.” In addition to putting on an incredible show each year (featuring Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, Jon Mellencamp and more,) they created “Homegrown Village” a sea of non-profit organizations educating the public on current issues in food and farming.
The National Young Farmers Coalition drew the crowd’s attention to the challenges beginning farmers face by testing its young farmer IQ. Though many people know that the average age of farmers in America is 57, most didn’t know that 70% of farmland will change hands within the next 20 years, and they certainly couldn’t guess that 500,000 farmers will retire within the next 20 years. “That many retiring?” They asked. Well, not with benefits sadly. But in dire need of farm successors!
Our nation’s young farmers are poised and ready to take this opportunity to serve good food to our country. We just need supportive policies, training programs, and opportunities to get young people on the land. The Farm Aid crowd was certainly a receptive one, and we enjoyed the opportunity to connect with folks across the country eager to support us.