The Sahatjians have been growing raisins in Madera, California for nearly 90 years and across four generations. But their story of farm succession is increasingly rare. Today we’re announcing a new partnership with Clif Bar & Company, one of the nation’s leading organic food makers, to raise awareness of the U.S. farmer shortage and highlight the importance young farmers play in driving innovation.
To kick off this joint campaign, Clif Bar is releasing a new video in their Farmers Speak series, in which they share the story of a family of organic raisin farmers whose farming tradition is now into its fourth generation. Without a concerted effort to recruit and encourage young people to enter farming, these types of success stories will become less common in the future. Watch the video and share it widely:
The average age of the American farmer is 58.3 years. Over the next 25 years, more than one-fourth of U.S. farmers are expected to retire, requiring more than 700,000 new farmers to replace them. However, from 2007 to 2012, the number of young farmers increased by only 1,220.
Why so few young farmers? One major obstacle: costly student loans. NYFC surveyed 700 young farmers for our Farming Is Public Service Report and found that young farmers with student loan debt owed an average of $35,000. Nearly a third of those surveyed said their student loans are delaying or preventing them from farming. To raise awareness about the impact student debt has on the shortage of young farmers, Clif Bar is donating $35,000 to NYFC to support our work and highlight the average amount of reported debt.
Clif Bar is also joining NYFC in calling for federal legislation that would relieve the young farmer student debt burden, helping a new generation choose agriculture as a profession. The Young Farmer Success Act of 2015 would forgive the balance of student loans for farmers who make 10 years of income-driven student loan payments.
Take action right now by asking your Representative to support the Young Farmer Success Act. We’ve already drafted the email – just tell us your zip code to get started.