I've written about the medias obsession with young farmers before, and now I see that backyard poultry is writing a piece that is titled
Young Farmers Going Extinct and it got picked up by a hardware blog (and your humble writer here)
Extinct is a pretty alarmist title. In that story the author talks about a study that says that the average age of farmers in wyoming was increasing, and that the percentage of all farmers that were younger was decreasing.
First, lets talk about what a "farmer" is. I'm going to presume that someone who they count as a "farmer" is actually a landowner; because if they count people like immigrant workers, the average age is pretty low -- I'd say way under 35 -- and the total number of farmworkers is probably either steady or decreasing (as automation makes it possible to farm with less labor, but very slowly).
Some types of farm work are a young mans game, and part of the automation push that american farms have is that it's hard to get a young person to buck bales of hay for minimum wage, or do any of the other jobs that are a lot harder than playing with an xbox.
So the average age of landowners is increasing. I've got to question why this is an issue. Someone will work that land if there's a profit to be made.
I've written many times about farms that didn't work out for one reason or the other. But I'll bet that if you go to the land that thundering hooves farmed, or tlc ranch (honestmeat.com) farmed, you'll find people today that are tilling and farming that same ground.
Good farmland stays in production basically forever -- at least I'd hope so. In my area they keep flooding and ruining good farmland because there's no cost too high to pay for salmon recovery (see footnote 1), but that's rare in agricultural areas.
Take home lesson?
There will be no shortage of food, or famers, in the near or far future. If the labor situation does get worse, we'll either automate our way out of it, or we'll raise wages to the point where it becomes competitive with other employment choices that people have.
We don't have articles wondering why the average age of CEOs is increasing, or the average bank president is 60 years old. We probably should move right on to more important topics. Like what we're going to eat tonight, or what the cat is doing in the kitchen.
3 weeks ago